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Dear Debi,
Iím preparing to open my own day care, but Iím worried about how safe my home is. What are some of the basic security and safety measures I should take?
Karolina , North Hollywood, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Consult the CA Dept. of Social Services for exact guidelines
  • Provide safe toys, play equipment and materials
  • Fence or barricade stairs
  • Make poisons, detergents, cleaning compounds and medicine inaccessible to kids
  • Outdoor play areas should be fenced or supervised
Expert Advice
Paulette Brown
Paulette Brown
CA Dept. of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division
For important safety guidelines consult the California Department of Educationís Safety Information Ė specifically, the Community Care Licensing Divisionís Manual of Policies and Procedures for Family Child Care Homes, Title XXII regulations.

To start with, follow these safety guidelines :
  • There is no smoking in a child care home. Every home should have a fire extinguisher and a smoke detector installed.
  • Each home should have land-line telephone service (not just cell phone service).
  • The home should provide safe toys, play equipment and age-appropriate materials. Remember, things which can be safe for a 9 year old, may not be safe for a 22-month old.
  • Where children less than five years old are in care, stairs should be fenced or barricaded.
  • Unused electrical outlets should be covered.
Fireplaces
Fireplaces and open-face heaters shall be screened to prevent access by children. Every home must have a working smoke detector installed, a fire extinguisher, and a first aid kit, too. They canít be licensed without them. I verify that CPR and first aid courses have been completed.

Heaters
Gas heaters shall be properly vented and permanently installed. Wall heaters or floor heaters need to be barricaded from the kids so itís not hot to the touch and the kids donít get burned.

Hazardous Materials
Poisons, detergents, cleaning compounds, medicines, firearms and other items which could pose a danger if readily available to children shall be stored where they are inaccessible to children. All toxins must be inaccessible to children. Some providers have elderly parents, so child-proof locks arenít good for them. Instead, they can put those items up high and out of reach.

Pools
All licensees should ensure the inaccessibility of pools (in-ground and above-ground), fixed-in place wading pools, hot tubs, spas, fish ponds and similar bodies of water through a pool cover or by surrounding the pool with a fence. They must have a self-latching fence that opens away from the pool or the manufacturerís pool cover that supports the weight of an adult. Remember, this includes all bodies of water (such as bird baths, water falls, and fish ponds) because children can drown in 3 inches of water.

Outdoor Areas
Outdoor play areas should be either fenced, or outdoor play areas should be supervised by the licensee or child care provider. The play area should be free of debris. The provider should also check if any of her plants are poisonous. Some kids have died from eating poisonous plants. If they have a lot of rose bushes, we ask them to fence them.

Emergency Info
An emergency information card should be maintained for each child and should include the child's full name, telephone number and location of a parent or other responsible adult to be contacted in an emergency. In addition, the card should include the name and telephone number of the child's physician and the parent's authorization for the licensee or registrant to consent to emergency medical care. They need to have an emergency disaster form posted and some sort of earthquake preparedness materials. We ask them to do fire drills and record them.

Baby Walkers
A baby walker should not be allowed on the premises of a family child care home, in accordance with Health and Safety Code Sections 1596.846(b). Johnny Jumpers and bouncers are not allowed either. Walkers tend to tip over quite frequently. The Department of Health says the Exer-saucer isnít good for hips. Iíve even seen providers put infant bouncers on the table or stove. When the baby learns to move, theyíll tumble. High chairs and swings are OK.
Child Care provider Comments
Alma Martinez
Alma Martinez
Child care provider for 10 years
I make sure there are no sharp objects anywhere, or anything that could hurt the children. I get emergency phone numbers from parents. I lock up all medications, including aspirin, inhalers, everything. I put my cleaning products up in the high cupboards. I also make sure I have all electrical outlets covered.

We also do earthquake and fire drills monthly. We alternate them Ė one month you do an earthquake drill, the other you do a fire drill. I have posted on my walls an evacuation plan, with a floor plan of my home.
Diane Ferguson
Diane Ferguson
Child care provider for 3 years
With an infant, I create a separate area with the crib, and make sure the high chair is secure and that the child is always locked into it. They must be locked in the swings, too. If they are on the floor crawling, I make sure there is nothing small for them to put in their mouths.

With a toddler, I make sure all of the gates are locked. I put art materials and things up higher, like paints and glues. There has to be furniture that is appropriate for their size. I donít think toddlers really bump into things. I think people are paranoid about edges but once they know where the edge is, they know where to stop.

With preschoolers I make sure knives are locked away. I check all gates and doors to make sure they are locked and I also put special covers on the door handles that spin so the child cannot open the door. I also make sure there is no stair access for them.
Clarissa August
Clarissa August
Family child care provider for 21 years
You want to make sure all medicine cabinets are locked, that wall heaters arenít accessible to burn the kids, and that you have fire extinguishers. I think that glass tables and corner should be covered. Also, if you are caring for babies, make sure you have a changing area with running water close by, so you can wash your hands.

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