Alice and her mother were sitting in the kitchen the other afternoon, talking over Alice's day at school. As she chatted, Alice's mom was also keeping an eye on her younger child, 2-year-old Tom. Then the phone rang, and Alice's mom answered it. She started talking and laughing, and she didn't notice Tom toddling over toward the stove. He was on his way to investigate an interesting-looking pot handle that was sticking out over the edge.

Luckily, Alice was alert. She jumped up, grabbed a pot holder, and swiveled the pot of simmering soup away from her brother's outstretched hands. Tom started to yell. He thought Alice was interfering with his fun.

But Alice's mother was grateful. "Thanks," she said to her daughter as she hugged her. "Your quick thinking prevented an awful accident. I should have known better than to leave that pot on the front of the stove."

Alice and Tom's story has a happy ending. But many accidents involving children are not prevented. Thousands and thousands of children are injured in them every year. Sadly, many children are killed by accidents each year. Accidents are the number one killer of children aged 1 to 14. Many of these tragedies could have been avoided, doctors say.

Now you know why your parents are always telling you to be careful. They try to protect you as much as they can -- but they're not always right beside you to watch out for things that might cause you harm. Sometimes, you have to take care of yourself -- and your younger brothers and sisters.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization of children's doctor's from all over the United States, wants you to know how to avoid accidents, and what to do if an emergency happens. They came up with some guidelines to help you do this, whether you're at home, at school, or playing outdoors:

*Be safe and careful when you are on the playground. Remember not to twist swings, swing empty seats, or walk in front of a moving swing. Be extra careful when climbing. You could hurt yourself or someone else.

*When you ride your bicycle, remember that it is not a toy. Obey all traffic signals and stop signs. Wear a protective helmet, and don't ride after dark. Also, don't ride an older person's bicycle. A bike that's too big for you can be dangerous.

*If you are going to be outside playing as it gets dark, make sure you wear light-colored clothing that will reflect automobile headlights. That way, you'll be seen by an oncoming car.

*Remember to look both ways before crossing streets. Tell yourself "left-right-left" so you'll remember to look first left, then right, then left again. Cross only at an intersection, where there is a crosswalk, stop sign or traffic light.

*If you are at home with your brother or sister and your parents aren't home yet, always call for help if you get scared or if someone gets hurt. If, for example, you are playing and someone falls and hits his head, don't be afraid to call even if you're not sure it's an emergency. Know a neighbor's phone number and the number of the police.

*Know how to escape in case of a fire in your house. If you see a fire or smell smoke, get out of the house fast. Don't stop to get a jacket or try to put out the fire. Close doors as you leave, and crawl if you see smoke; fresh air is near the floor. Call the fire department from a neighbor's house.

These guidelines are a few of the things you can do to help keep yourself and your family safe. Ask your parents about other safety habits you can all develop to prevent accidents. A simple thing like turning pot handles in toward the stove instead of out where young kids can grab them can prevent serious injury. Develop good safety habits in your house; that way, if an emergency does happen, you'll be prepared. Tips for Parents

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that accidents claim 8,500 lives a year among 1- to 14-year-olds. Four times as many children die from falls, burns, drownings, car accidents, choking, fires, poisonings, suffocation and electrocution than from any childhood disease. You can help by taking simple preventive steps. Some tips from the academy: Check the heating system in your house on a regular basis to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and fires. Don't smoke in bed. Keep working fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in your home. Check the hot water supply in your house to prevent scalding. Set temperature between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit -- the lower the better. Provide enclosed, hazard-free play areas for your children. Don't allow your child to play in the yard while the lawnmower is in use.