It’s a parent’s ultimate nightmare – a toddler floating face down in the pool. But with the summer season approaching, pools are not the only things that can be hazardous to your children during the coming holidays.
What are some of the things parents should keep in mind to stop their children from becoming accident statistics?
Swimming lessons are a good idea, but experts are divided on the age when these should start. The recommended age varies from three months to four years.
Pools in which swimming lessons take place, should be properly chlorinated to reduce the risk of infection.
Excessive submersion is not a good idea, as it could lead to water intoxication. Choose a teacher who is not in favour of any methods of force, as it could instil a fear of water.
Sessions should be no longer than thirty minutes, as children have an increased risk of hypothermia.
All pools should be fenced off and the gates should have decent childproof locks. Children should never swim without adult supervision. Also remember that children have drowned in 5cm of water. Shallow pools and buckets also pose a danger. It is estimated that more than one child drowns in South Africa every day. Make sure it’s not yours.
Remember that diving accidents and resultant spinal injuries can easily happen in domestic pools. Do not pick up a child if you suspect a spinal injury. Keep the child’s head above the water, slide a board under his head, back and buttocks, taking care to keep the head and neck in alignment and wait for professional help to arrive.
Discourage children from running around the edges of a pool. They can easily slip and fall.
- Make sure that all children are wearing safety belts, or are strapped into SABS-approved car seats when you travel. Never hold children on the lap.
- Keep children away from braai fires and inflammable materials. Do no let matches or lighters lie around in your house.The Red Cross Children’s Hospital annually treats 900 children for burn injuries.
- Always make sure that children who are roller-skating or skateboarding wear helmets and knee and elbow pads.
- Keep plastic bags out of the reach of children.These include packets wrapped around Christmas presents.
- Prevent choking by keeping round, hard foods and sweets, and any small objects, where children cannot get hold of them.
- Make sure young children are always supervised by an adult, difficult as it may be with all the distractions over the holiday season.
Proper childcare can prevent many accidents – make it a priority this summer.