Make sure cries of joy don't turn into screams of pain this summer holiday
With the kids at home for the summer break and buzzing about the weeks of play time ahead, accidents are bound to happen.
However, with the correct approach to safety, it is possible to keep incidents to a minimum.
“No matter how pushed and stressed parents may be feeling, there are many simple, small steps to safety that they can take,” explains Katrina Phillips, a child safety expert.
“Be it putting a hot drink out of reach, teaching children how to cross the road safely, or supervising the use of scissors, the steps to safety are small but can make a big difference.”
She adds: “If an accident happens, there’s that terrible sense of guilt, even when parents aren’t at fault. They think ‘if only I’d done that’ - and the truth is, it really wouldn’t have taken much time to do something to potentially stop something horrible, or even fatal, happening.”
Tracy Fountain, the founder of Back to Basics, a community first aid training provider in the UAE, says that after road fatalities, drownings are the most common form of child deaths in this country.
“It’s important for families to take measures before a pool party to make sure children are safe,” advises Tracy.
“You need to make sure there is adequate supervision for all of the children. Plan ahead by seeing how many parents are going to be there with their kids, ideally it will be all of them. Before the party, agree on ‘water monitors’ who are allocated specific children and are not to leave the poolside unless they hand over the responsibility to another adult.”
Tracy, whose firm provides safety training for parents, home help and companies, warns that it’s important to make sure everyone in your household is pulling the same direction when it comes to safety.
“A big part of what we are focusing on now is not only the practical elements, such as child proofing and safety gates etc, it is also behaviour within the home,” says Tracy.
“You have lots of different cultures brought together in the home, including nannies from different backgrounds, and everybody has a different level of understanding towards safety,” she adds, noting that it is common for nannies in the UAE not to have had any formal training in safety or first aid.
“First of all, find out what is your maid’s level of understanding towards safety. Put them through situations like you would if you were recruiting someone at work, such as: ‘what would you do if you were faced with this situation, how would you respond to it?’
“The majority of maids we train do not know the ambulance number,” says Tracy.
It’s not just the summer holidays that add to increased injuries at home, Tracy warns that there’s a rise in child burns during Ramadan.
“There are extended families and a lot of groups together,” she says. “They are eating and their children are running around. The kitchen is a really unsafe place at that time.
“Have non-negotiable [rules] in place. The kitchen should be a no-go zone when there is cooking going on.” The one single act that will dramatically reduce child deaths in the UAE is proper use of car seats and seatbelts. Road fatalities is biggest cause of child deaths in the UAE.
“It is something that is so out of control,” complains Tracy.
“It is about leading by example and telling the child ‘you will not get in the car unless you are strapped in’.”