Students raise awareness in Westridge

UNATHI OBOSE

Medical students from the University of Cape Town were in Westridge last Monday in an effort to educate residents about the danger of accidental poising and how to conduct first aid.

The students had also conducted a survey in the area recently, and among the sites they visited were Parkhurst Primary School, Westridge civic centre and Westridge clinic.

“During our survey we found that many people thought that they knew what a poison is but when we gave them options to identify a poison not all of them could,” said fourth-year medical student Thandani Mlambo.

“Most people could identify paraffin, bleach, insecticides, paint, deodorant, Dettol and washing powders as poisons. However, about 51 percent of participants didn’t think make-up is a poison.” She added that people also had little knowledge of first aid. “When we asked them about the first aid they said they know what to do but when we gave them scenarios they answered incorrectly,” she said.

She said they presented their findings in different ways in order for the community to understand them.

“At Parkhurst Primary School we held a special assembly and we dressed up as the famous characters of the Lion King with other additional animal characters and acted out a play in an effort to make it entertaining but at the same time conveying the message about the danger of poisons and what to do in case of accidental poising.”

“At the civic centre we presented the findings to the 60s club and showed them videos made by the students. Whereas at Westridge clinic we spoke to parents and caregivers about the dangers of poison, prevention and first aid measures,” said Ms Mlambo.

She said young children are most vulnerable because their parents sometimes failed to keep dangerous chemicals out of their reach.

Parkhurst Primary School teacher Ivan Coraizin described the event as “entertaining, but educational”.

“The students performed the play wearing costumes and caught pupils’ attention,” said Mr Coraizin.

“I urge parents to be careful and ensure that they properly close containers with poison (in them) and put them (out of reach of) children,” he advised.

He noted that there had been no incidents of poisoning at the school.

Ms Mlambo emphasised that in the case of poisoning, or suspected poisoning, people should immediately call for an ambulance by dialling 10177 or contact Red Cross Poison Centre on 021 658 5428 or Tygerberg Poison Centre on 021 931 6129.