Advice Column, Parenting


  • ChildSafe
  • Category Advice Column, Parenting

It’s the holiday season again, a time when we enjoy festive meals with family and friends, deck our halls with colourful decorations and listen to squeals of delight as our children open their brightly wrapped presents. It is also a season which brings a harvest of 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”, Yolande Baker, Executive Director, ChildSafe. 

To help ensure your children have fun and stay safe this holiday, here are a few tips from ChildSafe to remember.

Check Your Child’s Car Seat Before Holiday Travel 

  • Seventy-three percent 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.
  • Drivers should always watch out for all pedestrians. 

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.

Blow Out Candles and Store Matches Out of Reach 

  • Keep holiday 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.

Preventing burns 

  • 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 to in the bathroom.
  • Put our braai fires with cold water and not sand.

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 – 0861 555 777.

Find the Perfect Toy for the Right Age

  • Consider your child’s age when purchasing 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 just right. 
  • Before you’ve settled 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.

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 you might as well prepare. 
  • 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. Take a look at the ones on your tree and in and around your home for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.

At the Beach and Swimming Pools

  • Whether swimming, surfing, boating always treat the sea with respect.
  • If children cannot swim, they should always not go out of their depth and be supervised. Even good swimmers can be swept out to sea by currents.
  • The biggest danger to children at beaches are the rip currents. It is difficult to identify a rip current, but lifesavers will demarcate safe swimming zones between red and yellow flags.
  • Never leave children unsupervised near or around water.

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.

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