Whether you’re heading to the beach, a friend’s house for a braai and swim or just hanging around at home, remember many outdoor activities and events are full of hazards and it’s important to keep an eye on your little ones all the time.
Common accidents amongst kids
Recent statistics by the National Safety Council and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in the US, reveals injuries are a major reason why babies and children end up in the ER.
According to the report, these are the top three serious injuries to watch out for:
Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in children, with bicycle-related accidents coming out tops.
What to do: If a new bike is on your child’s Christmas wishlist, keep a watchful eye when she speeds around the block. Also make sure to dress her in protective gear like gloves, knee guards and a helmet. If you’re at the playground, check out the equipment and take note of any broken pieces, sharp objects or potentially dangerous jungle gyms where your child could fall.
Drowning is the leading cause of death among children between the ages of one and four years. Most drowning and near-drowning incidences happen in residential swimming pools and open-water sites. However, children can drown in as little as 2.5cm of water.
What to do: If friends or family don’t have pool nets, or you’re spending a day at the beach, don’t assume your child will know better and not go near the water unattended. Children generally seek adventure and push boundaries. If you’re with your partner, take turns watching the kids. At home, consider putting up a pool fence and net and enrol your child in swimming lessons. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children start going to formal lessons from the age of four.
For older children, consider investing in a smart tracking device so you know where your child is − especially if you’re on the beach or at a public pool.
The Kids GPS Tracker Smart Watch with Remote Monitor looks like a simple watch, but is made with a built-in, accurate GPS tracker and your child can make calls to two pre-set numbers and recive calls from up to eight. Simply download the app and supervise your child from your cell phone. Available for R398, from takealot.com.
Suffocation as a result of choking is another major cause of death among babies younger than a year old − especially around the festive season when you’re all trying out different foods. If you suspect your child is choking, act immediately as this could save your child’s life, says Hayley Rosenthal, owner at 1st CPR, a company that specialises in first aid and CPR training for families and caregivers.
What to do:
If your baby is choking and can’t cough, breathe or make any sounds, do the following:
- Hold your baby face down on your forearm, making sure to support her head and jaw with your hand. Sit or kneel while holding your baby on your arm and support her by resting your arm on your lap or thigh.
- Give up to five back slaps with the heel of your other hand between your baby’s shoulders.
- If the object doesn’t come out after the five back slaps, turn your baby onto her back.
- Move or open clothes from the front of your baby’s’ chest – only if you can do so quickly.
- Place two fingers on your baby’s breastbone and give up to five chest thrusts.
- Alternate five back slaps with five chest thrusts until the object comes out.
- Should your baby stop responding, initiate CPR immediately and call for help.
2 other summer safety tips to follow:
Apply sunscreen to your child’s skin regularly
But make sure it’s the right one. Mineral-based sunscreens with zinc oxide are better for your child’s skin than chemical-based sunscreens, which contain potentially harmful ingredients such as parabens and oxybenzone that’s been found to cause rashes and skin irritations, says Samantha Westlake Brown, former training manager at Dr Hauschka.
Also, make sure to pack a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing in your child’s bag to protect her skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Little ones’ skins shouldn’t be exposed to too much direct sunlight − especially between 10am and 3.30pm, says Samantha. If your older child doesn’t mind wearing sunglasses, it’s a good idea to invest in a pair of Polaroid glasses.
Keep a first-aid kit on hand
It’s always wise to keep a handy first-aid kit in the boot of your car, or with you all the time, especially if you’re travelling.
The Nemours Foundation highlights some essential items you should keep in your child’s first-aid kit (all items are available at your local pharmacy):
- Sterile gauze pads of different sizes
- Adhesive tape
- Adhesive bandages (plasters) in several sizes
- Elastic bandages
- A splint
- Antiseptic wipes or antiseptic solution (like hydrogen peroxide)
- Hydrocortisone cream (1%)
- Medication such as ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory
- Sharp scissors
- Safety pins
- Calamine lotion
- A thermometer
- A pair of plastic non-latex gloves (at least 2 pairs)
- A blanket
- A mouthpiece for giving CPR