According to Professor Sebastian van As, head of the Trauma Unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, motor vehicle accidents, drownings, burns and falls are the most common reasons children end up in hospital over the holidays. He adds that 80% of trauma cases are linked to road accidents where children were not properly strapped in.
Common childhood injuries during the holidays
Dr Marion Morkel, chief medical officer at Sanlam, says the most common injury claims Sanlam receives for its Child Illness and Injury Benefit over the holidays are for near-drownings, vehicle crashes and major burns.
“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,” she explains.
Dr Morkel and Pumla Mtambeka, Home Safety project specialist at ChildSafe South Africa, have compiled a guide to help you mitigate injury risks at home and in public spaces this festive season.
Make your home extra safe this holiday:
- Keep hot electrical appliances, toxic substances and sharp objects locked away or out of reach. The same applies to matches, paraffin and lighters.
- Search your 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 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:
10177: ambulance or fire department
112: any emergency (an operator will redirect your call to the right department)
- Consider attending a first-aid course. 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 your child wears a helmet and avoids traffic when skateboarding or biking.
- Supervise small children on roads and teach older children about paedestrian 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 body of water without supervision.
- Dr Morkel says it’s also important for adults to use alcohol in moderation as this can impair child supervision. She adds that risk mitigation should ideally include protection through medical aid, gap cover and a Child Illness and Injury Benefit. “Have peace of mind over the holidays and at all other times of the year. The Sanlam Child Illness and Injury Benefit covers 81 claim events, with all cancers within the body counted as one event. Claim events include injuries and accidents like head injuries, rib fractures, dog bites and near-drowning events.”
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