Baruch Hashem, this parenting blog has grown by leaps and bounds. We have been picked up by many fantastic newspapers, and the number of online subscribers we have is growing every day. I feel that it is time to share an important article with everyone, one that I’ve been working on for quite some time.
I remember hearing an amazing thought from Rabbi Yehoshua Kalish about 28 years ago. He told our class that when people are speeding while driving on a highway, they are always on the lookout for police officers. If while driving they pass a motorist who has been pulled over, they slow down instinctively. After a while, they pick up speed again — and that’s where the next officer is waiting.
The police department understands that you’ll be driving slowly once you pass the first officer, and they space the patrol cars accordingly. I pointed out that the smart move would be to speed up when someone else is pulled over. Rabbi Kalish chuckled. Obviously, I’m not condoning speeding. My point is that after an event has passed, we tend to become more complacent.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, people were lining up to buy home generators. After a few months, however, the demand dropped. It doesn’t mean that everyone already installed one. On the contrary, many people who really needed them simply forgot how serious the need was.
When it comes to our children’s safety, we are always so careful. When a tragedy occurs, we make all these resolutions about how cautious we’re going to be. Then we procrastinate. Other things come up that are important. We don’t have the time or patience to deal with it. I’m here to remind you. I’m begging everyone to please read all parts of this article. The first part deals with safety at in your house. I suggest signing up at yidparenting.com for e-mails on other safety tips.
Part I: Your Home
(1) Every bedroom should have a functioning smoke detector. Building codes require that they be interconnected, but many older homes don’t have this. It’s not that expensive, and you can even have them connect wirelessly these days. Make sure that every floor and every bedroom has a working detector. They need to be installed properly, so please go online to verify where in the rooms they should be placed. Replace the batteries once every year. Lives depend on this. Bedrooms that are on a second or third floor should have an emergency ladder kept under a bed or in a closet. Anyone in the room should be taught how to use it.
(2) Your family should have an emergency plan and location. You should all understand that if there is a fire, chas v’shalom, you will meet up at the same point. You don’t want the firemen to rush into a burning house looking for someone who escaped and is in the backyard.
(3) You must make sure your home insurance is up to date and set up properly. In the afternoon, I work as a public adjuster, which means I help families deal with insurance after a fire, flood, or burglary. I have seen countless families suffer very serious financial hardships because they were underinsured or improperly insured. You can ask around if you’re not sure, or you can contact me for a list of brokers in your area.
(4) Every floor should have a carbon monoxide detector. It should be installed five feet from the ground, and near every sleeping area in the house. It doesn’t need to be in every bedroom. Carbon monoxide is very scary since it’s silent and has no smell. Typical symptoms of CO poisoning can include headaches, nausea, blurry vision, and more.
(5) All windows should have bars on them. A screen is useless if a child decides to go exploring. All windows should also have strong locks.
(6) You should have Hatzalah’s phone number on each phone (and saved in your cellphone). It’s also a good idea to have the number to your local fire department. Calling 911 works, but calling the department directly can save seconds.
(7) It’s a good idea to take a picture of all important documents and make sure they’re stored in the cloud (Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.). Documents can include birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, insurance cards, and the back of your credit cards in case you need to cancel them. Small fireproof and waterproof safes aren’t expensive and can save you a lot of aggravation if there is an incident, chas v’shalom.
(8) Make sure all medications are kept out of sight and out of reach. Never refer to medicine as candy and consider child-proofing the medicine cabinet. Finish all doses and dispose of any medications that are expired. Keep the number to poison control on a sticker in the cabinet.
(9) An alarm system is important and can get you a nice insurance discount also. There are many different types available, although you need to make sure that it won’t cause an issue on Shabbos. Installing security cameras has also become very cost-effective, and it’s an excellent deterrent.
(10) Make sure all doorways that require a mezuzah have one, and check them once a year.
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a well-known rebbe and parenting adviser. To sign up for the weekly emails and read the comments, visit YidParenting.com.