How to keep kids safe this festive season

Accidents, drownings, burns and falls are the most common reasons children end up in hospital over the holidays.

Professor Sebastian van As, Head of Trauma Unit at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, says motor vehicle accidents, drownings, burns and falls are the most common reasons children end up in hospital over the holidays, adding that 80% of trauma cases are linked to road accidents where children were not properly strapped in. So small yet crucial interventions like a seatbelt can save little ones’ lives.

Here are some tips to keep kids safe over the December holidays:

Make the home extra safe this holiday:

  • Make sure hot electrical appliances, toxic substances and sharp objects are locked away or out of reach. The same applies to matches, paraffin and lighters
  • Search the home for objects that may cause harm. Read the labels on items you’re not sure about
  • Don’t let children near candles, fireplaces or the braai unless there is continuous supervision
  • Keep cabinets locked, especially ones where you keep chemicals
  • Watch out for water in the bathroom. Be wary of little ones being near the bath or geyser
  • Keep toxic indoor plants out of reach
  • Make sure your pool cover is secure whenever the pool is unattended
  • Mitigate choking hazards by cutting a small child’s food into pieces

Upskill your family in safety 101s:

  • Always, always wear seatbelts. This should be non-negotiable for the whole family
  • Help your child to memorise your phone number and a key emergency number to call. Put a list of other important numbers on the fridge or somewhere visible and rehearse phoning these in emergency scenarios. Here are three very good ones to know:
    • 10111: police
    • 10177: ambulance or fire department
    • 112: any emergency (an operator will redirect your call to the right department)
  • Consider attending a first-aid course and, if you have a child minder, consider taking them along  
  • Teach your child to swim from a young age
  • Explain what objects are dangerous and why

Stay safe in public spaces:

  • Make sure that a child wears a helmet and avoids traffic when skateboarding or biking
  • Supervise small children on roads and teach older children about pedestrian safety (look right, look left, look right again!)
  • On hot days, keep sunscreen, water and protective clothing on hand
  • Don’t let children near any kind of water body without supervision

Dr Marion Morkel, Chief Medical Officer at Sanlam, says the most common kinds of injury claims Sanlam receives for its Child Illness & Injury Benefit over the holidays are for near-drownings, vehicle crashes and major burns.

She adds, The costs of these curveballs can be extensive – from extended hospital stays to rehabilitation and counselling. Netcare gives an estimated daily average of R20,796 for specialised intensive care (including paediatric care), which excludes treatment and medical care. A Child Illness & Injury Benefit complements existing cover to provide additional financial relief for these less obvious expenses and shortfalls.”

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