Is your family protected?

Monday 11 January 2016, 05:04 PM

Sam Barratt
Financial Journalist , Freelance

  • Protection 849

Whether they're six weeks old, six years old or sixteen, protecting your children is your number one priority. But with everything from bumps and bruises to road traffic and the internet presenting a potential threat, it's essential to find effective ways to safeguard them.

These are some of the most common fears and ways you can reduce them.

Bumps, bruises and bugs - although many will help to build up your child's resistance, they can be unpleasant. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to minimise the suffering. For starters, make sure you have a first aid kit. This should contain age-appropriate painkillers, antiseptic cream or spray, antihistamine cream, calamine lotion and lots and lots of plasters, bandages and dressings. It's also sensible to know some basic first aid as well as the warning signs for some of the more serious conditions. For example, red or purple spots which don't fade when you press a glass against them could indicate your child has meningitis and needs urgent medical attention. Also make sure your children get all the routine vaccines to protect them from nasties such as polio, meningitis C and measles. More details are available on the NHS website or you can speak to your GP or practice nurse.

Stranger danger - reports of child abuse, grooming and abduction are rarely out of the news but the chances of this happening are, thankfully, relatively low. Teaching your children about staying safe will reduce the probability further still. To make them aware of the risks, without giving them nightmares, keep messages simple. Examples include always telling a parent where they're going and never getting into a car with a stranger. You could also set up a special codeword that only your child and trusted adults would know. Then, if there's an emergency and someone different has to pick your child up, they can reassure them by giving the codeword. Handy advice on this can be found on the NSPCC's website.

Fire - the number of house fires has fallen dramatically over the last ten years but there were still almost 40,000 fires in the UK in 2013/14, with the main causes being misuse of equipment and appliances and cooking-related incidents. There are plenty of ways to reduce this risk but the most effective is fitting - and regularly testing - smoke alarms on every floor of your home. It's also prudent to have an escape plan if there is a fire. This should detail escape routes and ensure that any necessary door and window keys are easily accessible. More information can be obtained from your local fire and rescue service.

Online danger - the internet is an amazing source of information, entertainment and social interaction, but it can also expose children to risks ranging from inappropriate content and pushy sales techniques to bullying, grooming and abuse. Staying safe online requires a number of different strategies. As well as using parental controls and safety tools such as the privacy settings on Facebook, you should also have conversations with your children about online safety. This will encourage them to be on the lookout for dangers and to speak to you if they encounter any issues. The UK Safer Internet Centre can provide more information on staying safe online.

Traffic - more safety devices on vehicles means the number of accidents on the UK's roads is falling, but government statistics show there were still more than 4,000 young people (aged 19 and under) killed or seriously injured on the UK's roads in 2013. The best way to protect them is to teach them how to cross the road safely. The Green Cross Code is taught in schools but it's also good to run through the 'stop, look, listen' routine with them yourself. The next big danger zone is when they pass their driving test, with the combination of independence and teenage hormones creating a heady - and potentially lethal - combination. Discuss the risks with them and, if you can, set rules for when they drive and the number of passengers they carry. You could even sign them up for an advanced driving test such as Pass Plus, which will also help to reduce the cost of their insurance. The government's THINK! website has lots of advice about keeping your children safe in traffic.

Death - although the chances of dying while bringing up your children are relatively small, as more of us delay starting a family, the risks are on the up. Thankfully, protecting your family financially in the event of your premature demise is relatively simple. Life assurance will provide a lump sum payment if you die, or you could opt for a family income benefit, which pays a set amount for the rest of your selected term. It's easy to take out life assurance and, while you're still young and healthy, it's cheap too. As an example, a 30-year-old non-smoker would pay around £10 a month for more than £200,000 of cover. It's also sensible to get your will written. As well as stating who gets your worldly goods, this can outline who would be your children's guardian if the unexpected did happen.

For more information about protecting your family financially, visit LifeSearch online or call 0800 316 3166.