The recent ice storm is, simply, a disaster — unprecedented, scary and ongoing. To make things worse, it is taking place on top of another equally scary disaster.

Because of the freezing cold and being without power, many are gathered together to stay warm and share resources. With all the chaos and the pent-up energy of children, it’s a good time to take a deep breath and review some tips to help keep them safe.

Healthychildren.org suggests many safety measures that should be evaluated. A checklist should include the following: Smoke detectors should be placed in the proper locations and their batteries checked. Pets, pet food and pet medication should be kept out of a child’s reach (this is for the safety of the pets and the children).

Escape plans should be thought about in advance, and fire extinguishers should be readily available. Gates should be positioned at the top and bottom of the stairs. Outlet covers that aren’t a choking hazard should be placed over sockets to prevent children from putting themselves at risk of an electrical shock.

Use furniture or other objects to block access to electrical outlets wherever possible. Soft covers or bumpers should be positioned around sharp or solid furniture. Remember that televisions and chest of drawers can be pulled over on a climbing child, causing serious injury or death.

Put “kiddie locks” on the cabinets in your kitchen and bathrooms and move unsafe cleansers and chemicals out of reach. Store pills, inhalers and other prescriptions, as well as medical equipment, locked up and out of reach.

Check for all dangling cords, electric or for window coverings, and remove or place up out of reach. Never leave a child unattended in a tub or sink, and empty all pails, including the diaper pail. Small children also might be attracted to space heaters, generators and candles.

In preparation, important phone numbers should be kept in your mobile device and a list posted somewhere prominently. In an emergency, you’ll want to call not only 911, but also certain specific family members. Remember your “in case of emergency” or “ICE” numbers in your own phone.

The check list can go on and on and will help prepare for children to stay safe in a new place or a disaster-modified home. The most important thing is constant vigilance because it only takes a minute. By sharing the careful watching of all the children, each family member can have some time to relax and take a few deep breaths knowing their children are safe.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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