By CHILD WELFARE GRAHAMSTOWN
Children’s safety should be ongoing throughout their lives, but extra caution should be taken during the festive season please.
Children are valuable human beings in our lives who need nurturing and protecting for them to become fully fledged and valuable members of their families, communities and societies at large. They are also little human beings and as they grow, they need to be heard, to be seen and to be protected and supported, so that they feel valued themselves.
Unfortunately however, we live in a society where safety of our children is compromised and one needs to take extra caution, particularly during the busy festive season. These tips, which we share every year at this time, remain important:
1. Beaches, dams and swimming pools: Drowning is the second biggest cause of accidental death among young children. These holidays are long, and hot and a great time to visit our beautiful Eastern Cape beaches. But parents need to ensure that children of all ages are supervised when swimming and that at the beach or public swimming pool, they swim within the designated areas where there are lifeguards on duty at all times. At home, it takes only a few seconds for a child to wander off and fall into a pool. For this reason South Africa’s new safety standards say every private swimming pool that can hold more than 30cm of water must be surrounded by a child-proof fence and fitted with a safety net or cover to prevent children drowning. Always supervise children near any water and give them your undivided attention. A child can drown in just 4cm of water.
2. Shopping centres are very busy at this time of year. If you take your children shopping, keep a close eye on them. Do not, under any circumstances, leave them in the vehicle. Put them in a trolley if they’re small enough, or hold their hand firmly in crowded places. Keep an eye on them at all times and don’t let them wander off. Teach your child who to go to in a shopping mall if they wander off and get lost i.e. a security guard in uniform, someone at the information desk, or a woman with children.
3. Children at home: Home is a special place, but it’s also where most of children’s injuries occur. Do your own safety audit to identify hazards and create solutions. Hot stove-tops, electrical appliances, chemicals that look good to drink but are toxic, and sharp knives make your kitchen a hazard hotspot. If you are working this festive season, ensure someone you trust is looking after your children. Leaving children, at home without supervision, especially of young children, is extremely risky. They should not be allowed to play in the street and should be kept inside their yard. Teenagers need to tell adults where they are going and when they will return. Supervised play dates at home is a great way to make holidays fun, while staying safe.
4. Strangers: Teach children not to accept anything from strangers – especially gifts from people they do not know. Tell them that should they be approached by a stranger, or feel unsafe or uncomfortable around someone they know, they should run away and scream to get the attention of people in the area. Teach them never to go to secluded areas alone, or even with friends, without adult supervision. Children must know their home address and parent’s cellphone number by memory and these numbers should only be given to people of authority (such as police officers or lifeguards). Teach children emergency numbers and what to do in emergency situations.
5. Party season: The festive season is filled with ceremonies and celebrations where people will be drinking. There should always be a sober adult supervising children and ensuring children are well cared for. If you are having a braai, keep children a safe distance away. Do not let them play around the area. Also teach them about the danger of playing with matches and lighters. Teenagers should be made aware of the dangers of consuming alcohol, the dangers of driving under the influence, driving without a licence, as well as the dangers of using drugs. Girls should also be made aware that they should not accept drinks from strangers and should always be
careful when at parties.
6. Safety on the road: Ensure children are buckled up with a safety belt and smaller children are in the appropriate car seats when travelling. Children under the age of 10 are not allowed to sit in the front seat, with or without a seat belt. There are many accidents on the roads during the busy festive time. Don’t drink and drive. Always plan in advance a designated sober driver. Avoid unnecessary trips with children on the road.
7. Create a “My Helping Hand network” with your child. A network is group of adults chosen and identified by your child who will provide them with support, assistance and if necessary protection. Talk with children about whom they can trust and whom they feel they can talk to if something does occur. Let them choose adults from a variety of environments to maximise access for your child. Parents must have a close and open relationship with children. Children should feel comfortable telling you where they are going and with whom. It is a great idea to let
children draw the outline of their hand and write for each finger who will be accessible, listen, believe and take action if necessary. This is a good idea if you are going away but also if you are staying at home.
8. Emergency numbers: Communities need to familiarise themselves with Child Protection organisations so that know exactly where to report in case of any incidents. If your child goes missing, report it to the police. Give authorities as much information about your child as possible. Place emergency numbers of the police, ambulance, fire brigade and security company where it is visible at all times within your home.
Child Welfare SA Grahamstown’s banking details are:
Account name: Child Welfare SA Grahamstown
Branch Code: 210717
Account number: 52322008551