Eid al-Fitr holidays are a time when parents need to be extra cautious about the safety of their children, urged an expert from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
Dr Rafael Consunji, director of the Hamad Injury Prevention Programme, the community outreach arm of HMC’s Trauma Surgery Section, is providing tips to help parents ensure that their children stay safe and healthy during the holiday season.
"This time of year many families will spend a lot more time travelling to and from family gatherings and public events. Parking lots and streets are often busier than normal, and there is a need to keep an extra close eye on young children," he said.
The safety expert is also reminding the public about the importance of correctly restraining children while travelling by car.
“The proper use of car safety seats or seatbelts helps keep children and adults safer. All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the back seat, properly buckled in, on every trip. It is also important that drivers stay focused on the road. Distracted drivers can be one of the biggest risks on our roads,” said Dr Consunji.
“While mobile phone and technology usage is among the most talked about distractions, lack of sleep and fatigue, loud music, and some medications can also reduce a driver’s attention. Be a defensive driver; keep a safe following distance that will give you time to brake if the car in front of you suddenly stops, and use your signal lights to warn other motorists of your intentions” he advised.
Dr Consunji says it is equally important for parents to teach their children about traffic safety and the proper way to cross the street. Adults should be role models by always using designated crosswalks and sidewalks when walking with their children. Dr Consunji recommends children wear bright-coloured clothing during daylight hours and reflective material during the night.
Dr Consunji says that young children, below 16 years, should not drive or ride all- terrain vehicles (ATV) and that safely operating an ATV requires a driver who has enough strength, training, and experience. Many children are hurt as ATV passengers or when they are allowed to drive these powerful vehicles. ATV’s are not toys and children should be kept away from them, he emphasised.
Dr Consunji is also reminding parents and caregivers who will be entertaining children at home about the importance of age-appropriate toys and activities. He recommends keeping children’s play areas free from tripping hazards, like wires and toys, and away from heating sources, like stoves or ovens. He also recommends having ‘kid-free’ zones, such as the kitchen during cooking and food preparation time.
“It is important for parents to ensure their children are playing with age-appropriate toys, especially when considering projectile toys which are capable of shooting objects into the air. Toy handguns, bows and arrows, and dart guns can result in children sustaining serious facial, eye, and ear injuries,” said Dr Consunji.
“Children should never play with fireworks as they are too unpredictable and unsafe for children and can lead to serious burns and even result in blindness or amputations,” he added.
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