Monday, January 16, 2012

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Open Forum~ Special Needs Home Safety Tips

Every so often, I get approached by complete strangers freelance writers wanting to expand their resumes. They beg, they plead, they flatter me, my site, my monsters (always a good thing!) in hopes that I will agree to let them write here. In every instance, I tell the potential guest what my guidelines are. And I have scared off more than one, because I'm mean, and nasty and picky and horrid.

Occasionally, I get a brave writer who is willing to work with me. And so, I created Open Forum. A place where, from time to time, I will feature a freelance writer who wanted a chance. I never give out topics. I do, however, tell every writer that my following will know if they just copy/paste information about special needs from the Google.  I WANT my following to comment, to speak up if they agree/disagree with the topic. If they are offended or touched. If they want to see more from a certain writer or if a certain writer should disappear.

Please note: Publishing a post from a guest does not necessarily indicate shared views and opinions of  The Momma.

Home Safety Tips for Parents with Special Needs Children

Many families these days find themselves caring for special needs children. While kids generally come with a whole host of challenges, those with special needs can up the ante. And of course, the biggest concern that any parent faces is the safety and security of children. For some parents with special needs kids, this can mean trying to maintain constant vigilance, which is ultimately a losing battle. After all, there will be times when you need to take your eyes off the kids, and you certainly don’t want to go the way of the mom who taped her toddler to the wall. But you’re not a surveillance camera, you’re just a parent, and you need the tools that will help you to ensure the safety of all your children, especially those with special needs that may not fully understand the dangers they face in the home and the outside world. So here are a few products that might suit your home.

The first things you’ll want to consider are latches and locks. For many parents, these are a must, anyway, but those with special needs children may need to step up their game, securing not only cabinets that house dangerous items (chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and so on), but even those that contain dishes, art supplies, and basically anything that could be dangerous or messy. You might also need to look at methods to secure other items in your home, like appliances. There are special locks that you can use to secure most appliances, from the fridge, oven, and dishwasher to the washer and dryer; just check your local hardware store or try to find them. But you might want to look at everything in your home that has a door or drawer and find a way to secure it (see if cam locks are an option for flat panels in your home – there are many varieties that work on doors, drawers, and even containers). And when it comes to entryways, you can go high tech with biometric locks that will only open with your fingerprint (unless your kids can find a way to fake that, they won’t be going anywhere outside the home). They’re a bit pricy, but you may be able to work out some kind of discount with your insurance company once you install them.

Next you should turn your attention to windows. Nobody want to put bars on the window and feel like they’re living in a prison, but if your kids have found ways to open the windows and escape and you’re at your wits end, you might be willing to try just about anything. Luckily, you don’t have to resort to barring the windows just yet. You can try mesh window guards that will let in the light (and the view) while deterring kids from opening windows in the first place. They affix to the inside of the window frame and sport quick release hardware if you want to remove them. Of course, clever kids might figure out how to get past them, so you should also try window wedges. They look like the wedges you use to prop door open, but you can place them to stop windows from opening more than you want them to (or at all). And if all else fails, consider simply painting windows shut. You’ll give up some fresh air, but those windows won’t budge (and future homeowners can simply cut them open later on).

Of course, you could also install home security systems to help you out. Many now have wireless controls that let you use your smart phone to remotely set attached electrical systems (locks, alarms, lights, and more) and monitor multiple cameras placed throughout your home. This may not stop kids from getting into harm’s way, but it will let you watch them from a separate room and receive alerts when alarms are triggered.

Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.

Window image from Google. Author image property of Evan Fischer.

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