Natasha Joubert, an advanced life support and operations paramedic at ER24, answers common summer safety questions so you can enjoy a safe holiday season.

“Drivers are more relaxed on the roads and less likely to be aware of other road users. Also, there is increased traffic over the season. Another huge problem is that people drink more alcohol during the festive season, and we find this is the main reason for the rise in holiday accidents of all kinds.

“Adults who consume alcohol before driving are obviously a danger behind the wheel. While under the influence, parents tend to neglect their children. This leads to water-related accidents at beaches, pools, and dams.”

  • “Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • “Driving with children who aren’t restrained in car seats or wearing seatbelts.

  • “Reckless and impatient drivers are a major cause of road accidents and injuries to pedestrians.

  • “Driving an unroadworthy vehicle.

  • “Leaving young children to play in the streets and around water unsupervised.

  • “Swimming pools without safety nets.

  • “Safety gates built to block pool access being left open.

  • “Young children being left alone look after younger siblings – often because the parents must continue working.”

  • “From birth to at least age four years, your child must be restrained in an age-appropriate car seat. I cannot emphasise this enough.

  • “The seat must be fitted into the car and fastened properly facing the correct side of the cabin. Children under 15 months old should always be facing towards the rear.

  • “This helps prevent neck and spinal cord injuries during impact as an infant or child’s head is usually bigger in proportion to their body and the seat creates support.

  • “The body of a child is smaller than an adult’s, so in case of vehicle impact, they can easily slip through seat belts and out of a window. Children generally suffer the greatest injuries because of this.”

  • “Always have an adult supervise children around bodies of water.

  • “Never take your eyes off toddlers or crawling infants around water.

  • “Never drink alcohol around water as it distorts your sense of safety, making you believe you’re a better swimmer than you are. This can cause drowning.

  • “Only swim at beaches patrolled by lifeguards and stay between the flags. Ask the lifeguards if you’re worried about currents.

  • “Remember that you’re responsible for your water safety and that of your family – the lifeguards aren’t there to babysit your children.

  • “Always ensure a swimming pool is secured so small children can’t access it.

  • “Wear sun cream with at least SPF30 or higher. Reapply every hour, or after swimming.

  • “The sun is at its highest from 11am to 3pm. Seek shade to avoid burns, dehydration, and heat stroke.

  • “Keep children covered with a UV-protective swimsuit or T-shirt and broad-brimmed hat.

  • “Always keep babies out of direct sunlight.

  • “Cover up with a hat, and light cotton clothing.

  • “Wear UV-protective sunglasses to avoid damage to your eyes.

  • “Keep hydrated throughout the day, but avoid caffeinated drinks.

  • “At any sign of heat stroke, get out of the heat immediately.”

ER24 medics and vehicles are well equipped to handle emergency situations. Dial 084 124 for real help, real fast.


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