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Transcript: Your Internal Safety Alarm
Welcome to the People Safety Podcast from Kidpower, teaching advocacy, boundary setting, and other personal safety skills for building happier lives and stronger relationships. I’m Erika Leonard with another Kidpower People Safety Tip.
At my house, we have a smoke alarm, and it goes off a lot, usually because someone – probably me — burned something on the stove. One time it went off because our cat caught her tail on fire brushing past a candle on the shelf, but no matter what sets it off, people nearby hear it, and because they know what the sound means, they take action to stop the problem early.
We have safety alarms inside of us, too. Like a smoke alarm, our internal safety alarm can often warn us about problems really early so we can take action and get help if we need it in order to be safe. The trick, is, though, you have to be able to KNOW your internal safety alarm is going off, because while a smoke alarm is something that everyone in the room hears, you are the only one who knows when your internal safety alarm is going off.
People feel their internal safety alarms in lots of different ways. Maybe when you’re worried or scared or you think there might be trouble, your heart starts to thump really loud and fast. Maybe your skin suddenly feels warm, or your eyes water, or your stomach starts to feel funny. Maybe your throat gets a lump in it, like you swallowed something a little too big that didn’t go all the way down. These are common ways people feel their internal safety alarms, but there are other ways, too, and everyone is different.
One boy told us about how his internal safety alarm would go off when he would play with his good friend. Most of the time, they had fun, but every now and then, the friend would get frustrated and would start throwing things or breaking things. The boy learned that his internal safety alarm would help him notice when his friend’s frustration was starting to grow, before any throwing or breaking was happening. By noticing the problem early, he was able to get space from his friend calmly and confidently. As a result, and as a result, he was safer, and they also had a better friendship, because they ended up fighting a lot less.
A middle school girl told us about a time her internal safety alarm went off. She was standing in front of her school’s office waiting for her friends. Teachers and parents were all over the place, dropping kids off and getting ready for the day, and a man who looked sort of like someone’s dad asked her where the science lab was. She told him, and he thanked her, and he asked if she could show him the way. She said “Sure,” and then as soon as she said that she realized her internal safety alarm was going off. She took the time to think and decided that she did not know this person well, and while she felt very safe and comfortable giving him directions together with all those adults and kids in front of the school, leading him across the school on her own to the science lab was different. Instead, she directed him into the office, where she knew the school staff would be able to take charge of helping him find the science lab.
Later, she talked with her parents and with the principal about that experience, and as a result, the school was able to make a clearer policy to welcome guests so that they didn’t feel lost and so that students felt safe and comfortable. Adults need to know when a young person’s internal safety alarm goes off so they can keep our homes and our schools and our communities safe, so telling as soon as possible is a good idea. But, it’s never too late to tell about a time when your own internal safety alarm went off.
No matter how old you are, get to know your own safety alarm. It’s really useful! When you notice your internal safety alarm go off, your job it to be aware that it’s happening, to take charge if you know a good way to make things safer, and to get help if you need it. Remember to tell people in charge when ANY of your alarms go off. It could be that the adults need to make changes so that people feel safer. And, in the case of the smoke alarm…. Well, they might just need to make sure that the cat and her long, fluffy tail can’t get anywhere near that candle again.
Visit kidpower.org for more people safety tips, and remember, in everything you do, stay safe, act wisely, and, of course, believe in yourself!