Safety tips for the holidays

2016-11-22 06:00
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HOLIDAYS are coming up and it’s nearly time for the first relaxing break of the year, but it’s also a time when our usual routines are disrupted and safety may be compromised.

There’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to maintaining home security and making sure our families and belongings remain safe.

According to Stats SA, the fourth most commonly reported deaths (in the accidental death category) were due to exposure to smoke, fire and flames (8,4%) followed by accidental drowning and submersion (5,7%).

We’ll take a look at ways of avoiding statistics such as these, as well as practical guidance on what precautions to take before you set off on holiday and when your children are at home alone.

Emergency procedures

Do the children know what to do in the case of a break-in or other emergency? Things to think about include fire safety, medical emergencies and break-ins. If your alarm system has different buttons for various types of emergencies, make sure they know which is which, and where the panic button is located.

Fire safety

“Make sure you have a smoke detector in place to warn of potential issues,” says ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak. “Ideally it should be installed in the kitchen and elsewhere in the home.

“You also need to ensure that a fire extinguisher is available and that everyone knows how to use it. Extinguishers are often quite heavy for smaller children to use, so a good alternative is a fire blanket which will help in the event of smaller fires.”

Do your children know who to call? Make sure a list of emergency numbers is prominently displayed and that they know who to call for each emergency – use icons if necessary next to the relevant numbers. Alternatively, appoint a family member or neighbour who lives at home as their go-to person, so they can easily call this person for urgent assistance. Children should learn this person’s phone number by heart.

Medical emergencies

It’s a good idea to have someone in the family fully trained in first aid, or at least having done an introductory course such as the Friends and Family CPR course from ER24. This means they will have the knowledge to assist in an emergency while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

“If your children and their friends will be swimming, which is likely during the Easter holidays, ensure that each is a capable swimmer and that someone is constantly monitoring them while they are in the pool,” says Vermaak.

“Even if they are accomplished swimmers, accidents do happen and it is better to have someone in the swimming area just in case.”

Security in the home

Young children especially, may need a little extra protection because they would not be able to pick up the phone and call for help if they got into trouble. When it comes to protecting your family, we know you want all bases covered. Here are some ways you can protect your little ones from intruders and predators.

Make sure your children know they shouldn’t talk to strangers.

If you are busy washing in the laundry and someone comes to the door, teach them not to answer and rather to immediately call you.

Install surveillance cameras. These afford great peace of mind. If you have children home alone, you can check in on them via a smartphone app that is connected to your home cameras.

Automate safety as much as possible

We all know that when children arrive home from school they may not remember to lock doors and arm the alarm system. You can do this for them by using your smartphone to arm your home system using a smart alarm system. Also consider automatic door closers for front doors to make sure they are not left open by mistake. Digital door locks also offer a great solution for children who may lose keys. A simple code, or smart phone access can mean you don’t have to replace locks regularly and your home will be that much safer.

Some security providers offer a key lock box – if your security company needs to enter the home, or the children have lost the keys and need to get in, an access control box with a code can help get them in safely.

Think about pepper spray for older children or those who walk home from school.

Pepper spray can give children the upper hand if they suspect trouble.

Be sure when you buy key chain pepper spray that you test it first. Show your child how to use it so they understand how it works and how far the stream of spray will project, and to stand upwind so they are not also affected.

Alarm codes

As a safety precaution, change your alarm code when you come back from holiday. It should be changed regularly anyway to keep it as secret as possible. - Supplied.

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