It’s the long school holiday season again, a time when we enjoy long days with family and friends and listen to squeals of delight as our children run around and enjoy the warm weather. It is also a time which brings so many injuries to our children. “Bored children are more likely to investigate new ‘risky’ objects and areas. Children like to explore ‘new territory’, therefore this holiday season we encourage all parents and caregivers to actively supervise their children and be extra be vigilant”, says Yolande Baker, Executive Director of ChildSafe.
ChildSafe has these tips to keep your kids safe over the holidays:
- Be a mindful driver.
- 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 your child’s car seat before you leave for your holiday
- 73% of car seats are not used or installed correctly, so before you hit the road, check your car seat.
- Also ensure that all passengers are buckled up, even for short trips.
Use booster seats
Safety in the car goes beyond your little ones. Kids who have outgrown a forward-facing harness seat are not ready for a seat belt or front seat yet. They are safest in a booster seat that enables the adult seat belt to fit properly. Even when children have graduated from booster seats, they should remain in the back seat (firmly buckled up) until they reach the age of 12.
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 are wearing safety gear.
- Stay close to your child near water, in case they need help.
- Restrict children’s access to pools; make sure there is a fence with a locked gate around the pool – whether at your home or where you are staying for the duration of your holiday.
- On the beach, always have children swim where there is a lifeguard. Even good swimmers can be swept out to sea by currents.
- Check for warning signs near water before entering the water.
ALSO SEE: Swimming safety tips for kids
- 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 out braai fires with cold water and not sand.
ALSO SEE: Your summer first aid guide
Blow out candles and store matches out of reach
- Keep 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.
Keep harmful plants out of reach
- 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 on 0861 555 777.
Find the perfect toy for the right age
- Consider your child’s age when buying a toy or game this holiday season. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure the gift is age-appropriate.
- Before you settle on the perfect toy, check to make sure there aren’t any small parts or other potential choking hazards.
Keep button batteries away from young kids
- Keep a special eye on small pieces, including button batteries that may be included in electronic toys. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
ALSO SEE: What to do if your child is choking
Don’t forget a helmet for new bikes or other toys
- 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 your children in mind
- Children are curious and will want to play with the ornaments on the tree, so be prepared. 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 the lights
- Lights are one of the best parts of holiday decorating. Look at the ones on your tree and in and around your home for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.
Keep yourself and your children entertained, keep them safe, and have a happy, enjoyable summer holiday!
In case of an emergency call 10177 or 112.
ChildSafe, an injury prevention unit based at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is a non-profit organization that aims to reduce and prevent injuries in children through research, education and recommendations to legislation. They work with other non-profits, government, corporates and communities to achieve this. Their core focus is the prevention of unintentional injuries that are usually regarded as accidents, such as, burns, falls, drowning, road traffic crashes, choking and poisoning. Learn more about ChildSafe here.
Our experienced editors work with trained journalists and qualified experts to compile accurate, insightful and helpful information about pregnancy, birth, early childhood development and parenting. Our content is reviewed regularly by our panel of advisors, which include medical doctors and healthcare professionals. Meet the Living & Loving Team and our Online Experts.