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National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.

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Planning For A Safe And Fun Birthday Party
by Alison Rhodes

Whether it’s in your backyard, a bowling alley or pizza place, your child’s birthday party is something that’s usually carefully planned out. This year, as you’re choosing the perfect theme and decorations, keep in mind some tips to make it a safe as well as fun party:

  • Start with the invitations
    As a rule of thumb, the number of guests should be limited to the age of the child. If it is a family party and you will be having children of different ages, be sure to have separate age appropriate activities that are equally safe for young and older children.

  • Plan out the menu
    If the party is for children under five years of age, do not serve foods that are considered choking hazards such as hot dogs, popcorn, whole grapes, raw carrots and large chunks of cheese. Be sure that you are aware of any food allergies among your guests.

  • Have some safe fun and games
    Purchase a piñata with pull strings rather than one that needs to be opened by hitting with a stick. If you have rented a “bounce house” or inflatable item, do not allow younger children and older children to be on at the same time and limit the number of children on at any one time. This is also the case for a “pool of balls” where a younger child could lose their balance and get knocked over by an older friend or sibling.

  • Consider the location
    If you are having a pool party, find out from each parent their child’s swimming ability prior to the party. If it’s your pool, hire a lifeguard to be on duty during the party. When the children are in the pool assign each guest a “buddy” and pair them up. Keep a cordless phone with you at the pool and be sure that you have recently taken a CPR course. If the party is at a public place such as a movie theater, mall or restaurant create fun, brightly colored t-shirts for all the guests so that it’s easier to spot them in a crowd. Be sure that you’ve established a meeting place with the parents and get a cell phone number from each in case of an emergency.

  • Some last considerations
    Make sure that items in the party bags that guests will take home are age appropriate. For children under three, small bags of animal crackers, jars of bubbles and small packages of crayons are a better alternative to candy. Latex balloons are a choking hazard for small children – purchase Mylar balloons for the younger set.

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