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CT FosterAdopt Manual - Chapter 6

CTFosterAdopt Manual - Chapter 6

Baby Walkers

Bike Helmets



Child Restraint and Seat Belt Use

"Child proof" your home

Cords on Windows

Dealing with Strangers

Fire Drills

First Aid


Hot Water Tank Temperature

Illegal Drugs, Alcohol, and Cigarettes


Internet Safety

Lead Paint

Life Jackets




Power Tools


Play Equipment


Smoke Alarms

Wood Stoves


"Child proof" Your Home:  Cover electrical outlets, gate stairwells, put dangerous or fragile items out of reach (e.g., cleansing materials; medicines; breakable family treasures; glass; anything that can be pulled down; knives; paint-ball guns; balloons; plastic bags, etc.).  


Bike Helmets:  CT law requires children 15 and younger wear helmets meeting the minimum specifications of the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation whenever they operate a bicycle on the traveled portion of any road.   For additional information, see http://www.bhsi.org/standard.htm or write for information to CT Dept. of Transportation, 2800 Berlin Turnpike, Newington, CT 06111.


Cribs:  Cribs may only be used that have a certificate seal of compliance with national safety standards.  For older cribs, examine them to see that they conform to the following:

  • The distance between the slats of the crib should be no more than 2 and 3/8” wide;
  • If the crib has corner posts and they extend more than 1/16" above the headboard/footboard, unscrew them or saw them off and sand down the rough edges.  This may help prevent a baby’s clothing from getting caught on the posts;
  • There should be no decorative cut-outs on the headboard/footboard, or between the corner posts and the horizontal piece that extends along the headboard or footboard;
  • The mattress must fit snugly.  If you can fit more than two fingers between the edge of the mattress and the crib side, a baby’s head can become trapped there;
  • Mattress support hangers must be secure.   Check them each time you move the crib;
  • Check all screws, bolts, and the drop rails to be sure that they have not suffered from wear and tear;
  • If you must re-paint a crib, be sure that the paint is lead-free;

When purchasing a new crib, be sure that both crib and mattress meet the federal safety standards and industry voluntary standards.  For more information about the safety of cribs as well as other furniture and toys, call the Dept. of Consumer Protection Hotline, 1-888-842-2649.


Child Restraint and Seat Belt Use:  As of October 1, 2005, a new state law requires children up to age six or weighing 60 pounds to be restrained in an approved car sear or booster seat. Child passengers seven or older or weighing more than 60 pounds must use safety belts.


CT law requires anyone transporting a child under four who weighs less than 40 pounds to provide, and requires the child to use, a child restraint system that conforms to applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.  A child under four who weighs 40 pounds or more may be transported in either an approved child restraint system or in a seat safety belt.


The driver and any adult passenger riding in either the front or rear seat must wear a seat safety belt.  The driver must secure, or cause to be secured, any child under 18 in a seat safety belt or approved child restraint system as specified in the table below.


All children age12 and under shall be secured in the rear seat, whether or not the vehicle is equipped with a front seat passenger-side air bag.   A seat safety belt is one that is constructed and installed in accordance with CONN. GEN. STAT. §14-100a(b).   An approved child restraint system is one that conforms to applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards and is labeled as such.  Such restraint systems include car seats and booster seats.


 All children 12 years and under  Must ride secured in the rear seat of vehicles
 Infants until they are 1 year old and at least 20 pounds  Must be secured in a rear-facing, approved child restraint system
 Children under 4 years and weighing less than 40 pounds  Must be secured in an approved child restraint system
 Children under 4 years and weighing40 or more pounds  Must be secured in either an approved child restraint system or a seat safety belt
 Children age 4 years and older and under 18 years  Must be secured in a seat safety belt


If you are caring for children under four years it is important that you refer to your local police department or the Safe Kids website (http://www.ctsafekids.org/child-passenger-safety/find-fitting-station/) for a car seat clinic near you.  At the clinic, a certified technician will be able to determine whether your car seat has been properly installed.  Brochure from KidsSafe:  http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/childsafety_laws.html


Life Jackets:  Owners or operators of boats used for recreational purposes must require children under 12 to wear life preservers while the vessel is underway.   The law requires all vessels, except certain sailboats, to carry life preservers for each person on board.


Baby Walkers:  “Baby walkers” are of various types, but each have a seat suspended on a round frame so that the baby’s feet can reach the ground.  These walkers typically have wheels so that if the baby learns to push with their feet, they can move themselves along smooth surfaces.  Walkers are designed so that babies cannot get in or out without help, but it is known that many accidents have occurred with baby walkers when they have not been used properly.  Here are some important safety tips:

  • To prevent falls, place barriers at the top of all stairways or, where possible, keep stairway doors closed.
  • Only use “walkers” that are stable. A walker is less likely to tip over if the wheelbase is wide.
  • If there are coil springs, they should be covered with a plastic sleeve.
  • Metal parts should have no sharp edges or points.
  • Use “baby walkers” only in areas where there are smooth surfaces.  Edges of carpets, throw rugs, or raised thresholds can cause walker to tip over.
  • Unattended babies, toddlers and young children are accident victims too often.  “Walkers” are not intended to be babysitters.   Always supervise babies in “walkers”.

Power Tools:  State regulations (17a-145-137g) require that licensed parents provide proper safeguards and supervision if children use power driven machines or other hazardous equipment.  Be aware of the developmental level of the child.   Lock equipment that a child might attempt to use.


Guns/Weapons:  Remember that guns and other weapons, including BB guns, stun-guns, bows & arrows and swords, must be locked and the key kept in a separate place out of sight and reach of children. Ammunition must also be locked and stored apart from the weapon itself.  


Poison:  Keep poisons away from children … out of sight and inaccessible.  If you have concerns that someone has come in contact with poison or even if you are not sure and you would like information, you can reach the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Inhalants:  An older child or teen may be interested in inhaling substances in order to get high.   Even some household items may be misused in this way, e.g. gasoline, spray paint, glue, some magic markers and a variety of cleaners.  Appropriate supervision is the key to prevention.  


Hot Water Tank Temperature:  Be sure that your hot water tank temperature is set for no more than 120°.


Wood Stoves:  Be sure that young children are supervised so that they do not burn themselves on a wood stove.  Kerosene heaters are prohibited from multi-dwelling homes.


Pools:  Pools must comply with state regulations that were in effect at the time that the pool was built.  Key features include:

  • 4’ fence;
  • lockable gate or stairway to the pool;
  • alarm system (since 1999).
  • Check with your town/city government for specific permits and regulations before installing a pool.

First Aid:  Regulations require licensed families to have materials available to care for injuries in emergencies. 


CPR:  Licensed parents are encouraged to take CPR training, while parents with medically complex children are required to do so.


Pets:  Regulations require licensed parents to ensure that pets have the immunizations required by state law.   Licensed parents are also expected to keep children safe from pets that may become aggressive.  Assume that children who are placed into your home will need patient teaching on how to play with and care for pets.  Always supervise young children when they are playing with pets.


Lead Paint:  Lead was commonly used in paint until 1978.  Paint applied before that time, especially if it is peeling, chipping or flaking, is a hazard.   Poisoning from lead paint can have negative health and developmental impacts such as reduced intelligence and attention span and may cause learning disabilities and permanent damage to the nervous system.  For information on Lead Paint Safety see the brochure: Lead In Your Home:  A Parent's Reference Guide  or obtain written information through the National Lead Information Center (1-800-424-LEAD).


Medications:  Keep medications out of reach of children and locked, if necessary, to keep children from getting them.


Fire Drills:  State regulations that apply to all foster/pre-adoptive/relative parents include the expectation that a fire escape plan will be developed and fire drills will be practiced at least every 12 weeks and every time a new child is placed with you. 


Dealing with Strangers:  Practice how to answer the phone with your children; practice what to say when approached by strangers when opening a door in your home and in other places.


Illegal Drugs, Alcohol, and Cigarettes:  All children may be exposed to illegal drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol.    Supervision of their activities and acquaintance with their friends in school and the neighborhood will help you to help them avoid these harmful substances.


Safety:  We all want our homes to be safe places for those who live and visit there.  The following reminders, although not an exhaustive list, are important safety concerns to consider. Whenever you have questions about any safety-related matter, contact your support worker/family specialist.


Regulations call for all licensed parents to keep their homes “clean, comfortable and in good repair."  Post your "family safety checklist" next to the door most often used by you and your children.  The following are examples of items to consider for your list, but make it your own:  

  • Don’t open the door for strangers
  • Look both ways before crossing the street
  • If there is a fire in our home, get out and go to___________, call 911
  • Wear helmets when bicycling, skateboarding, and roller-blading
  • Poison control phone # is __________________

Smoke Alarms:  It is recommended that you check the batteries in smoke alarms at least every six months.  CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors/alarms are also highly recommended.


Play Equipment:  The amount of supervision to give children when they use play equipment will depend on their developmental level.  For equipment that has some risk, check with your child’s DCF social worker.   Birth families may also have some misgivings about certain equipment and, as appropriate, it is best to honor their requests.  The key to avoiding accidents is supervision and using safety equipment (e.g., helmets).


Cords on Window Shades and Blinds:  Be careful to keep cords, such as those on windows shades and blinds, away from children’s beds or where children can easily reach them.  Each year tragic accidents occur when children choke on cords.


Internet Safety:  There are people who attempt to meet children on the internet in order to engage in abusive behaviors later.  Educate yourself about the dangers of internet use for children and, as always, limit internet use and provide adequate supervision.