With the long school holidays approaching, parents and caregivers need to be extra vigilant when it comes to children’s safety, says ChildSafe, a non-profit organisation based at Red Cross Memorial Children’s Hospital.
“Children like to explore ‘new territory’, therefore this holiday season we encourage all parents and caregivers to actively supervise their children and be extra vigilant,” says Thilda Nel, the organisation’s executive director.
ChildSafe has several tips you can follow to improve safety.
• Always keep within the speed limit.
• Keep an eye out for pedestrians, especially now with children home and playing outside.
• Check that there are no children playing around your car before you drive off.
• Remember that children are safer in the back seat.
• Check car seats are installed correctly.
• Ensure that all passengers are buckled up, even for short trips.
• Children are safest in a booster seat that enables the adult seatbelt to fit properly.
At the beach and swimming pools
• Never leave children unsupervised near or around water.
• Actively keep an eye on your child near water, even if they can swim or wear safety gear.
• Stay close to your child near water, in case they will need help.
• Restrict children’s access to pools; use a fence with a locking gate.
• On the beach, always have children swim where there is a lifeguard.
• Even good swimmers can be swept out to sea by currents.
• Check warning signs near water before entering the water.
Consumption of alcohol
• Parents and caregivers must be responsible when consuming alcohol because numerous injuries to children occur when caregivers are under the influence of alcohol.
• Alcohol consumption impairs self-control, and adequate supervision of children cannot take place.
• Most traffic fatalities are alcohol-related, so use designated drivers, people who do not drink, to drive other guests home after a party.
• Kids love to reach, so to prevent burns from hot holiday food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge.
• Do not hold small children while drinking hot beverages.
• Always start with cold water first when running a bath and remember to test the temperature with your elbow and never leave a child unattended in the bathroom.
• Put our braai fires with cold water and not sand.
• Keep holiday candles at least 30cm away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep.
• Make a habit of placing matches and lighters in a safe place, out of children’s reach. Avoid novelty lighters or lighters that look like toys.
• Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous out of reach of children or pets. This includes berries, plants and mushrooms.
• In a poison emergency, call the Poisons Information Helpline at 0861 555 777.
• If your child’s heart is set on a bike, skateboard or scooter this holiday season, be sure to include a helmet to keep them safe while they’re having fun.
Decorate your tree with children in mind
• Move the ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks towards the top of the tree. That makes room at the bottom for the ones that are safer for young children.
• Check Christmas lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.
In case of any emergencies, call 10177 or 112.