Tips for a safer festive season

The reality is this: whether you are at home, on the road or at your holiday destination, accidents do happen so it is best to be prepared.

“The first hour after a medical emergency is the most crucial in terms of survival and the long-term extent of injuries,” says Dr. Basil Bonner, Emergency Medicine Specialist and Head of Milnerton Medi-Clinic’s Emergency Centre.

“It is vital that all members of your household, including domestic workers, know basic emergency procedures and that you keep a first aid kit at home and in your car and that every member of the household knows how to use it,” he advises.

Pre-journey safety checks
ER24 suggest the following safety checks before embarking on your holiday journey:


  • Ensure your home is secure – lock all doors and windows and activate the alarm if you have one.
  • Try and make your house seemed lived in by installing a timer on certain lights (and radios if possible). Even if you don’t have animals to feed, get a friend to look after your house anyway. Ask them to open and close your curtains on a daily basis and to regularly empty your mailbox.
  • Do not make your planned absence known to everyone, carefully select whom you discuss your holiday plans with.
  • Cancel newspaper subscriptions or make sure that someone collects them for you timeously.
  • Try not to pack your vehicle in clear view of the street when departing.


  • Check your tyre pressure and tread.
  • Make sure your vehicle’s lights and brakes are in good working condition.
  • Check your vehicle’s windscreen for cracks and make sure it’s windscreen wipers are effective.
  • Check the fluid levels of your vehicles oil, water and windscreen cleaner.
  • Ensure all the safety belts are in good working order.

What to do in the case of a medical emergency
“The most important thing for a person encountering a medical emergency is to stay calm,” says Bonner, “it helps to store an emergency number on your cell phone and to keep one near your home telephone.”

At the scene of an accident:

  • Stay calm.
  • Dial the emergency number stored on your cell phone and immediately state your name and contact number in case your phone cuts out.
  • Describe the injuries of the patient/s as accurately as possible and state how many people are injured.
  • Explain exactly where the accident occurred by giving street names, the nearest intersection and describing landmarks.
  • Indicate to the call operator if you think there might be danger of a fire or any other crisis situation.
  • Do not end the call before the call operator has confirmed that he/she has all the necessary information.
  • Alert oncoming traffic by switching on your vehicle’s hazards and, if necessary, try to re-direct the traffic – without bringing yourself in danger.
  • If possible, try to reassure the injured person and put them at ease. This is very important as the presence of a calm and reassuring person can help victims survive serious injuries.
  • Do not move the patient as this may aggravate their injuries.
  • In the case of an accident involving another vehicle, do not move the vehicles until you are authorised to do so by a traffic officer.

General tips for on the road
“Don’t rush to your destination,” advises Michael Emery, Sales and Marketing Manager of ER24, “begin your holiday with the actual journey.”

Emery also advises:

  • Never drink alcohol or take drugs before or during a journey.
  • Not to eat heavily before or during a journey as the process of digestion encourages sleep.
  • Rest well before a journey and eat a light meal.
  • Don’t wear tight clothing as your ankles and stomach tend swell when you sit for long periods of time, causing discomfort.
  • Wear sunglasses when driving in direct sunshine as glare strains the eyes and causes fatigue. Don’t wear tinted glasses after dark. They may reduce the dazzle of oncoming headlights, but they limit your ability to see dimly lit objects.
  • Make sure your vehicle is well ventilated and if possible, alternate driving with someone.
  • Take regular breaks. It is advisable to break every two hours or 200km’s.
  • When you take a break, make sure you go for a stroll to exercise your limbs and increase your blood circulation.
  • Do not drive inside the yellow line, except when another vehicle wants to overtake you and only if it is during daylight hours and the visibility is clear for a distance of at least 150 meters or more.

(Magna Carta, December 2007)

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