Calling on all caregivers to be extra vigilant

Red Cross War Memorial Childrens Hospital and ChildSafe SA are calling on all adults, parents and caregivers to be extra vigilant and apply proper supervision to children during lockdown.

Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and ChildSafe SA are calling on all adults, parents and caregivers to be extra vigilant and apply proper supervision over the young ones during the national 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The confinement of children to their homes and confined spaces poses an increased risk, of all ages, who are now vulnerable to a range of injuries such as burns, falls, poisons, suffocation, electrocution and even drowning.

Children are now close to heat, water and chemical sources in the home for 21 days.

Parents and caregivers have been asked to be extra vigilant.

“We usually see a rapid increase in burns injuries during this time of the year, especially during school holidays, and with the extended period of lockdown there are additional concerns,” said Dr Gary Dos Passos, head of the hospital’s Burns Unit.

Ensure that hot liquids are out of children’s reach and that children are supervised around candles and fires.

Dr Cindy Stephen, who heads up the Poison Information Centre, said: “We have already seen an increase in enquiries due to children ingesting hand sanitisers. Sanitisers may be harmful to children due to their high alcohol content. We need to remind caregivers to store all medications and household chemicals safely out of reach of children, especially at this time. Please always keep an eye on children when using cleaning materials and put medications away immediately after use.”

Head of the hospital’s Social Work Department, Carla Brown, said they understood that people were stressed and anxious about Covid-19 and the potential impact on jobs and income, but this was the time to build on family relationships and not take out frustrations on children and spouses.

“Alcohol and drug use severely impacts an adult’s ability to supervise and care for children. Please heed the call of President Ramaphosa and cabinet ministers: stay home and stay sober.”

ChildSafe recommends in addition to the importance of adult supervision, that parents and caregivers do a quick room by room inspection of the home to ensure that each room is safe from any injury risk.

A few quick tips: keep kettle cords out of reach; when cooking keep pan handles turned away out of reach; store water safely; supervise children around water at all times; check for potential fall risks (for example bunk beds, out of windows and doors, down stairs, off beds); furniture that can fall on children (like televisions and drawers); and check fire alarms.

For more information and safety tips for all common injuries in the home, visit www.childsafe.org.za

Report any gender-based violence or violence against children to 080 042 8428 or SAPS on 10111.

The Poison Information Centre can be reached on 086 155 5777.