Each month, the Redmond Police Department offers free safety classes.
April’s topic, Child Safety, attracted so much interest that public information officer Jim Bove filled two sessions of the class but still had 269 people on a waiting list.
For those who missed out, the Redmond Reporter covered the April 30 presentation by Officers Greg Patrick and Sande English.
Highlights included the following:
Patrick told children, “A stranger is anyone you don’t know. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, but you might not be able to trust them. Never accept a ride or candy or gifts from someone you don’t know.”
Sometimes a stranger will try to tell kids that their parents sent them, or their parents are hurt and they’re going to take the child to see them. “Hospitals don’t send strangers to pick you up when there is an emergency,” said Patrick.
English noted, “Sometimes they trick you with cute puppies or kitties or things they know kids like. No matter how good that sounds, don’t go with them.”
If a stranger tries to grab a child, getting away and making as much noise is possible is the right thing to do, the officers agreed. “Individuals trying to abduct children are cowards — they don’t want to bring attention to themselves,” Patrick pointed out.
Once you’re away from the attempted kidnapper, the officers noted, it’s important to “call 911, tell them your name, address and the phone number you’re calling from, describe what happened and stay on the line until the dispatcher tells you to hang up,” said Patrick.
Parents should identify “safe houses” where children can go in an emergency and help them practice what they’d say during a 911 call.
Patrick described what to do if kids are home alone, or their mom is taking a nap, and a stranger comes to the door: “Don’t talk to them through the door, don’t tell them your parents aren’t home. Even if it’s a mail carrier, a UPS or Fed Ex man, if you don’t know them, don’t answer the door. A legitimate person will ring the bell and then leave. If the person persists and won’t go away, call 911.”
Also, English told parents that age 12 or 13 is about right for most kids to be home alone for short periods of time. This depends on the individual child’s maturity level.
Parents should keep computers with Internet access in a common area of the house, “not because kids are looking for inappropriate material, but because that material finds them,” said Patrick. And he asked kids, “If you’re in an online chat room, if you can’t see who you’re talking to, what are they? They’re strangers. Even if they seem to be at your level, or they use the same phrases, don’t give them your name, phone number, address or any personal information.”
English told kids, “I’m going to explain why you have to sit in that dumb ol’ booster seat,” drawing laughs from the crowd.
State law dictates that children under the age of 13 must ride in the back seat to avoid front air bag impact if it deploys in an accident. Children under 8 are required to sit in a booster or car seat. If a child is younger but tall for their age, they may able to sit in a regular seat with a regular belt.
Infants must ride in a rear-facing car seat until their first birthday or they weigh 20 pounds.
Children one to four years of age, weighing 20-40 pounds must ride in a forward-facing car seat. Children four to six years old, 40-60 pounds must be in a booster seat if there is a shoulder and lap belt.
Sometimes middle seats have lap belts only and the force of a collision could cause abdominal injury to a child thrown forward with only a lap belt.
All children under age 16 must be properly secured in a vehicle and if they’re not, parents could face a ticket. Once they reach age 16, it’s their responsibility to buckle up and failing to do so may result in a ticket for the teen, English added.
There were questions about kids going shopping, to the movies or a pool without adults. “When are they old enough and what should they do to stay safe?,” parents wanted to know.
Again, about 12 or 13 is a good age for kids to gain some independence, said the officers.
Also, English advised, “Two words: NEVER ALONE. Always go with at least one buddy, preferably two or more.”
There was also a question, “How do I know if my neighbor has guns in his home? I don’t want my child playing in a home with firearms.”
The officers told parents not to be shy about asking — not in an accusatory way, but in a way that shows you are a loving parent. A reasonable person will not be offended. If someone thinks you’re rude, “So what? Your child comes first. Better to be safe than sorry,” said English.
For specific questions or concerns regarding child safety in Redmond, contact Jim Bove, public information officer for the Redmond Police Department at (425) 556-2545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.