As the festive season is upon us, ChildSafe South Africa is calling on parents across the country to be extremely vigilant, as this period poses significant threats to children’s safety.
According to the organisation, child injuries, including drownings, car accidents, poison indigestion, and head injuries, are prevalent during the festive season and road crashes in South Africa stand as the second leading cause of death for children aged five to 14-years-old.
“As we embark on the festive season, it is imperative that parents and carers actively supervise their children and remain extra vigilant, particularly when it comes to road safety.
“According to the African Brain Child's recent report, 96 out of every 100 children involved in a crash end up at the trauma unit with a moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury because they were not wearing a seatbelt.
“By using age-appropriate car seats, fatalities can be reduced by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers appropriately restrained and secured by wearing a seatbelt,” ChildSafe said.
It said the consumption of alcohol during the holidays presents considerable danger to child safety.
The organisation urged parents to be mindful of alcohol consumption and to appoint a designated driver when attending family and celebratory events.
“Not only do child-related accidents increase during the festive season, but violence against children also becomes a grave concern. Inadequate recreational, sports, and cultural activities in townships result in risky behaviour and children roaming unsupervised, making them vulnerable to abuse and violence, including sexual abuse.
“To address these challenges and keep children safe during the festive season, it is crucial to promote and strengthen a holistic community child safety approach. This approach should involve all stakeholders, including children, parents, community members, service providers, and local and provincial authorities,” ChildSafe said.
ChildSafe offered these safety tips:
Be a mindful driver: Adhere to speed limits, watch out for pedestrians, and check for children playing around your vehicle before driving off. Children are safer in the back seat.
Check your child's car seat before holiday travel: Ensure car seats are used and installed correctly. Buckle up all passengers, even for short trips. For older children, use booster seats until they reach the age of 12.
Preventing burns: Keep hot holiday foods and liquids away from young children. Never hold a small child while drinking hot beverages. Take caution when running a bath and use cold water first. Test the temperature before leaving a child unattended. Extinguish braai fires with water.
Ensure a safe environment: Store matches and lighters out of reach of children. Keep holiday candles away from flammable objects, ensuring they are extinguished when unattended or before sleep.
Choose age-appropriate toys: Consider the age of your child when purchasing toys and avoid choking hazards. Read the instructions and warning labels thoroughly.
Be cautious with button batteries: Keep an eye on small game pieces, including button batteries, that could be hazardous to younger children.
Prioritise helmet use: If gifting bicycles or other toys, include a helmet.
Childproof your decorations: When decorating the tree, ensure that breakable ornaments and those with metal hooks are placed at the top, out of children's reach.
Inspect lights for safety: Check tree lights and any other decorative lights for frayed wires, loose connections, or broken sockets.
Tips to keep children safe from poisons:
– Be careful when visiting other people’s homes where medications and poisonous substances may not be safely locked away.
– When travelling, do not keep medications in travel or shopping bags where they are easily accessible to children. Ensure all medications are safely stored away immediately after use.
– Hand sanitiser is everywhere. Make especially sure that toddlers cannot reach it to drink it or spray it in their eyes.
– Be careful that paraffin or other poisonous liquids, such as methylated spirits or thinners, are not decanted into juice bottles where they may look like water or juice.
Tips to keep children safe from drowning:
– Never leave a child alone near water: a bath, pool, river, dam, or sea.
– Swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty. Only swim between the lifeguard flags.
– Never drink alcohol and then go swimming.
– Adult supervision and creating barriers to water are vital.
– Adults who are supervising children in water must be able to swim.
– Know how to survive rip currents: Learn about rip currents on the NSRI website.
-Only swim when lifeguards are on duty.
– Don’t attempt a rescue by yourself. Call a lifeguard or the NSRI by dialling 112 from your cell phone for help. Throw something that floats to the person in difficulty.
– Do not let children use floating objects, toys, or tyre tubes at the beach or on dams.
– Make sure that the pool gate is child-safe and closed and that a child-safe pool net is in place.
– Designate one responsible person to look after children who are swimming.
- Do not leave toys inside the pool area after swimming.
– Learn how to do CPR: Learn how to do CPR and rescue breaths safely for someone who has drowned. Follow these guidelines: CHECK (are they breathing?) CALL (Call 112 for help) COMPRESS (push hard and fast in the centre of the chest).
Police / Fire Emergency: 10111
Medical Emergency: 10177
Emergency from Cell phone: 112
Poisons Helpline: 0861 555 777
NSRI: 087 094 9774