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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
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Time For Designated Watchers

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Because young children, especially those whose mobility exceeds their seichel, can, in a blink of an eye, put themselves in hazardous situations. Kids who don’t know how to swim fall or cluelessly leap into swimming pools; run out into the street; fall off of beds or dressers or ladders; are hit hard by heavy objects they pull off shelves; swallow poisonous substances or medications that resemble soda or candy; wrap curtain cords around their necks, etc. and in such situations, often the outcome is very serious injury or death.

And it can happen to anybody.

The lucky parents are the ones whose children had “close calls.” I remember a friend telling me years ago how her two-year-old grandson impulsively jumped into a pool (perhaps it was in a bungalow colony). Luckily his father saw him do so and, fully dressed in his Chassidic garb, jumped into the water and saved his son.

But heartbreakingly, not every story has a happy ending.

To help prevent these soul-destroying tragedies, I highly recommend that whenever there is a gathering of relatives or friends, there be a designated watcher per toddler/child. Just like responsible party-goers have a designated driver – a person who does not join the group in their uninhibited drinking of alcohol and thus is not inebriated so that he/she can safely drive everyone home, there should be a responsible teenager or adult assigned to a specific child. After half an hour or so, another person can take over. This way, the child is under constant scrutiny. Even three minutes of unintended non- supervision out of two hours can result in tragedy. Young children must be under supervision 100 percent of the time.

I also strongly suggest that families with young children buy motion detectors that they can place outside on their lawns, both front and back, and near a swimming pool or garage. These detectors sound an alarm if they sense motion. Usually they are used to deter burglars, but can be a relatively inexpensive way to be alerted that someone is outside when you weren’t expecting anyone to be. They can be annoying in that they might go off if a dog or squirrel dart by them, but that is a small price to pay to be made aware that a child is outside.

However, nothing is as efficient as a one-on-one child watcher. It may be inconvenient, or a hassle to assign a “volunteer” to shadow a toddler, but it is necessary for everyone’s peace of mind. When you save a life, you save a world. That’s certainly worth a few minutes of your time.

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