How safe is your child?
South African children grow up in an environment where they are exposed to high levels of risk at home, on the road, at school and at play. Children are extremely vulnerable to injuries, both deliberate and accidental.
Children in the home
Your children can drown in a bucket of water, or in a water-logged vacant lot across your street. They can be burnt by hot water or suffer serious injury being run over walking to school. They can accidently poison themselves with a household chemical, or electrocute themselves playing with exposed electricity cables.
How safe is your child?
As adults, caregivers and parents, we must take responsibility and make sure that our children learn, play and grow up in a safe environment without the threat of being hurt. Many childhood injuries and deaths are preventable if some simple safety habits are practised.
A good place to start being safety conscious is in the home, which is the most common place where children are injured. The home can be full of hazards that can seriously injure children.
Road traffic injuries and children
One of the best protective measures to safeguard children and babies when travelling in a car is to use seat belts, child safety seats and booster seats that are appropriate for the child’s age and weight. Small children, especially those under 10, are extremely prone to head injuries as their heads are heavier in comparison with the rest of their bodies.
Safety tips for child pedestrians / cyclists
The Road Safety Foundation states that a staggering percentage of people who die on our roads are pedestrians and that road traffic injuries are the biggest cause of traumatic injuries sustained by South Africans. Let’s all do our part in protecting our child pedestrians and cyclists.
- Children are only ready to cross the road ‘safely’
at the age of eight years. Young children should not walk to school alone. If no one can walk with them, organise walking groups
- Children should be clearly visible and wear brightly coloured clothes like reflective clothing,
when walking or cycling
- Helmets are compulsory for all cyclists – make sure the helmet fits correctly and is always tied securely
- Ensure that children understand the traffic rules and obey them
- Do not allow children to play on the edge of or in the middle of roads – roads are not playgrounds
- Warn children about the dangers of talking to strangers or accepting lifts from strangers
- Ensure the child knows exactly what to do in an emergency or if approached by a stranger.
Safety tips for the home
- Lock all dangerous household cleaning items, paraffin and insecticides in a secure place out of children’s sight and reach
- Lock all medicines away safely – children are attracted to colourful pills which they could mistake for sweets. Throw away unused or expired prescription medication safely – your pharmacist will be able to assist you
- Always supervise children in baths, around swimming pools and dams, and don’t leave open buckets of water where children can get to them. Drowning can occur in a few seconds
- Hot water burns like fire, so keep all hot objects, boiling kettles and pots out of reach of prying fingers
- Cook with care. Never leave food unattended on the stove and turn pot handles to the inside of the stove plates
- Do not leave children unattended around candles, open flames or fires, and make sure that matches are out of reach
- Ensure electrical cables are safely secured and out of the way. Don’t run cables under carpets – they can be damaged by people trampling on them
- Fit electrical sockets with safety plug covers
- Lock guns and ammunition away safely, preferably in a gun safe
- Do not leave plastic bags lying around – children can suffocate themselves
- Get rid of old fridges, stoves and cars in the yard – they are perfect hiding places, BUT often the doors cannot open from the inside
- Lock the car when it is parked and keep the keys with you. Children can easily lock themselves in, or release the handbrake and set the car in motion
Help keep our children safe and secure - allow them to live to their full potential
Keep dangerous objects out of the reach of children
- Children under the age of 12 should sit in the back seat of vehicles
- Children should always wear safety belts when travelling in a vehicle
- Babies should sit in rear-facing car seats until they are about one year old
- Babies from one and children up to the age of four years may be seated in front-facing car seats
- Children over the age of four should sit in booster seats until
they are around eight years of age