A child's inquisitive mind makes science an engaging and entertaining subject, but experiments in the home can spawn disasters if you don't have rules to keep your child safe. By helping your child follow a few safety rules, you can eliminate dangers and avoid trips to the emergency room, all while keeping science fun. Talk to your child about the rules to follow during an experiment and explain the reason behind each one so your child can understand the importance of the rules on his own.
Conduct experiments under the supervision of an adult. While many of the experiments your child might want to conduct at home do not contain hazardous materials, you still have the potential for explosive results. For example, vinegar and baking soda might seem harmless, but mix them together and you have a volcano -- add any food coloring to that and you have one big mess to clean up if the experiment was not properly supervised.
Use protective equipment. Home experiments probably don't involve heating chemicals with a Bunsen burner, but even the mixture of vinegar and baking soda can sting if it gets in your child's eyes. Use safety glasses, where a smock or apron to protect clothing, and using gloves when an experiment requires coloring agents will mean less scrubbing you have to do in the bath later.
Learn how to handle an emergency, even if you don't anticipate a big emergency. For example, vinegar in the eye might not seem like a blinding emergency, but it does sting because it is an acid and can cause damage to the cornea. Know before your child begins an experiment what substances are used, what negative effects can occur, and how to respond quickly and appropriately.
Keep long hair tied back and wear experiment-safe clothing. Your child's sleeves should be rolled up -- even when an experiment is safe, a dangling sleeve can knock things over and make a mess. Opt for form-fitting clothing and ensure aprons are secured properly.
Research the experiment ahead of time and stick to the plan. Spontaneously adding different paint colors together to see what color it makes is OK; adding ingredients at random from the cupboard to see what reaction takes place probably is not. Conduct a little research before your child begins any experiment to ensure all aspects and ingredients are safe and then do not deviate from the experiment's instructions.
Items you will need
- Safety glasses
- Smock or apron
- Hair tie
- Form-fitting clothing
- Science Safety Rules; Kelli Hicks
- The Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book; Tom Robinson
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