Playing It Safe

Safety may seem humdrum. Complacency is worse. Peter declares the need for stirring up “by putting you in remembrance.” We will always remind you of these things, even though you already know them.

In Cars

Motor vehicles are the leading cause of injury-related death. Buckle up! Even if no one in your destination country wears them, seatbelts exist for a reason. Buckle up all passengers when traveling by car. Install seatbelts if your car does not have any.

Parents, regularly weigh and measure your children to ensure they fit guidelines for car seat safety. Children younger than eight, weighing less than 36 kg (80 lb) and standing less than 145 cm (4’9”) should always be secured in a safety or booster seat, depending on their height and weight. For more information, see Safety Kids Canada.

On the Street

In Southeast Asia, your chances of a fatal injury are 160% that of North America; for Africa, 270%.

Wear a helmet. On a trip to India, we conducted an informal study: less than 20% of tourists wore helmets. Some had child sitting on their lap, similarly unprotected. A Mayo Clinic study found that children are more likely to wear helmets if their parents do.

The rule applies to motorcycles and dirt bikes. Helmets should fit snugly, with a durable outer shell. Obtain a CSA-approved helmets before moving overseas. Stick to genuine brand-name helmets.

In the Water

Drowning is silent and only takes a second. Children can drown in as little as four cm of water. And young adult males are “madmen. Not a shread of sense… Nor can they glimpse the death and black doom hovering just at their head to crush them all in one short day” – to borrow Homer’s description in literature’s most epic expatriate narrative.

Children should never be left unattended by water. Keep them within arm’s reach.

Children under four should wear a personal flotation device (PFD) around water, even “fishing at the edge” or “just watching Dad.” Teach children over the age of 4 to swim. Parents, learn the basics of CPR and first aid.

Be aware of the water currents and undertows. If no one else is swimming, you shouldn’t either. Protect your neck: always go feet first in unfamiliar water.

At the Playground:

Kids love playgrounds, and they can be part of a healthy, active lifestyle. Here are some safety tips:

  1. Scan the playground for broken glass, hazardous equipment, animal feces and proper surfaces (asphalt and concrete are not safe).
  2. Your child should be able to reach climbing equipment on his own.
  3. Check your child: clothing can get trapped in equipment and strangle a child. Remove drawstrings and other cords from clothing.

Around the house

Our homes can be a safety hazard.

  1. Chemicals should be kept on a high shelf or locked cupboard.
  2. Reduce the risk of suffocation. Infant cribs should be free of comforters, thick blankets, plush toys, and pillows. Ensure that toy chests have ventilated holes, in case the lid falls on your child while they are inside.
  3. Install smoke detectors. Discuss an exit plan with your family in the event of a fire.
  4. Cover any exposed electrical wiring.
  5. If you need a refresher on eye safety, see “O Be Careful Little Eyes”