18 Jun 2018 – 10:20

HMC’s tips for parents to ensure safety of kids during holidays

The Peninsula

DOHA: While Eid Al Fitr is a joyous time of year it is also a time when parents need to be extra cautious.

A safety expert from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has provided tips to help parents ensure that their children stay safe and healthy during the holiday season.

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Dr Rafael Consunji, Director of the Hamad Injury Prevention Program (HIPP), the community outreach arm of HMC’s Trauma Surgery Section, has said that this time of year many families will spend a lot more time traveling to and from family gatherings and public events.

He said parking lots and streets are often busier than normal, underscoring the need to keep an extra close eye on young children. He has also reminded the public about the importance of correctly restraining children while traveling 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 while they are driving. Distracted drivers can be one of the biggest risks on our roads,” said Dr. Consunji.

He added: “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 said that 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. Children under the age of 10 do not have the necessary skills to judge the speed or distance of oncoming traffic and should be accompanied by an adult when crossing the road or navigating parking lots.”

Dr. Consunji has recommended that children wear bright-colored clothing during daylight hours and reflective material during the night. He further recommended standing clear of buses, hedges, parked cars, or other obstacles when crossing a roadway. “Signify your intention to cross the street by making eye contact with oncoming drivers and putting your hand up.”

For those planning to spend time using all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) during the break, Dr. Consunji said it is important to remember that these vehicles are designed for one passenger. He said that young children, below 16 years, should not drive or ride ATVs and that safely operating an ATV requires a driver who has enough strength, training, and experience.

In preparation for Eid, Dr. Consunji also reminded parents and caregivers who will be entertaining children at home about the importance of age-appropriate toys and activities. He said that there is a lot we can do to prevent injuries in the home, noting that the home can be a hazardous place for infants and young children in particular.

He has recommended keeping children’s play areas free from tripping hazards, like wires and toys, and away from heating sources, like stoves or ovens. He has also recommended having ‘kid-free’ zones, such as the kitchen during cooking and food preparation time.