Be savvy this summer

By Drum Digital
04 December 2014

Here are tips from experts on how best to keep your children safe and happy.

Summer holidays spell hours of fun for children at the beach or in the swimming pool. And that means parents have to be hyper-alert to the hazards of sunburn and the possibility of drowning or near-drowning.

Here are tips from experts on how best to keep your children safe and happy.

WATER SAFETY

Emergency services are being kept busier these days with calls concerning drowning andnear-drowning, according to healthcare company Netcare. The incidents are usually inland and involve children between two and eight years old at public and private swimming pools as well as rivers. There are fewer calls at the coast, where emergencies usually involve children and teens aged 10 to 18. Nick Dollman of Netcare 911 says on its website that drownings occur especially among children who are unaccustomed to playing near water.

“About 90 percent of children who drown are under some form of supervision. But children can drown in just a few hundred millimetres of water. We once had a case where a baby fell into a bowl of water in which dishcloths were soaking.”

Emergency services in Johannesburg say the golden rule is never to leave children unsupervised near water Bear these guidelines in mind.

-        A child could suffer cramps underwater or hit their head against the edge of a swimming pool or on a rock if they’re swimming in a river, which is why an adult should always be present.

-        Children older than four should have lessons with an accredited swimming school or at least learn flotation or lifesaving techniques.

-        The American Academy of Paediatrics suggests parents and older children learn first aid so they can help to stabilise someone whose life is in danger.

-        The best precaution with a swimming pool is to erect a security fence around it and make sure it has a self-latching gate. Never leave a swimming pool gate open. If you can’t erect a fence, put a safety net over the pool. The net should be in place whenever the pool isn’t in use.

-        Even if you don’t have children, erect a fence around your pool or cover the pool with a net. The children of people who visit your home could be at risk if the pool isn’t secure.

-        Make sure there’s always a flotation device near the pool, as this could be the difference between saving a life and a drowning.

-        Dams, lakes and rivers aren’t safe to swim in and of course aren’t fenced in so if you live near water put up a fence around your house or property.

-        Make sure there’s nothing close to your pool fence that a child could drag closer and use to climb over.

-        Fish ponds should always be covered with nets.

SUN PROTECTION:

The sun is most harmful between 11 am and 3 pm - and skin can burn even if it’s cloudy. The lighter your child’s skin the greater the danger of sunburn.

-        Babies younger than six months should be in the shade at all times when outdoors – and even then you must apply sunscreen to protect their delicate skin from reflected rays. S Use a sunscreen for your kids that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more and protects against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply it every two hours.

-        Apply sunscreen to your child’s entire face, remembering the ears, and also to the neck, hands, feet and shoulders. Apply it under swimsuit straps and the edges of the swimsuit in case these move, and have your child wear a hat, not a cap, that covers the face, head, neck and ears.

-        Apply lip balm with an SPF 30 factor.

-        Seek shade under a tree or an umbrella so your kids are protected or set up a gazebo under which everyone can relax.

-        Don’t allow them to lie in the sun tanning. Dark skin tans rather than burns because the skin contains more protective melanin – but tanning is still a sign of sun damage.

-        Your children should wear sunglasses to protect eyes from damaging rays that could cause cataracts or damage the corneas.

-        Dress them in long-sleeve cotton shirts, pants, skirts or other clothes to cover up and avoid sunburn.

-        Certain medication increases the risk of being burnt in the sun. Ask your doctor about this if your kids are on chronic medication.

-        Danel Blaauw

SOURCES: ABOUTKIDSHEALTH.CO.ZA, CITY OF JOHANNESBURG, CENTRES F

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