While Eid Al Fitr is a joyous time for most Muslim families, this is also a time when parents need to be extra cautious for the safety of their children, according to an expert from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
Dr Rafael Consunji, Director of the Hamad Injury Prevention Programme (HIPP), the community outreach arm of the HMC Trauma Surgery Section said that this time of year, many families will spend more time travelling to and from family gatherings and public events. Parking lots and streets are busier than normal, and parents need to keep an extra eye on young children. Dr Consunji also reminded 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 old 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 the road. 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.
Dr Consunji said it is equally important for parents to teach their children about traffic safety, and how to properly cross the street. He said that adults should be ‘role models’ for children, always using the designated crosswalks and sidewalks when walking with young kids.
Children under the age of ten 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 recommends that children wear bright-coloured clothing during daylight hours and reflective material during the night. He recommends 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) during the break, Dr Consunji said that it is important to remember that these vehicles are designed for one passenger. Young children, below 16 years, should not drive or ride an ATV. Safely operating an ATV requires a driver who has enough strength, training, and experience.
Dr Consunji is also reminding parents and caregivers about the importance of age-appropriate toys and activities. He said that there is a lot that can be done to prevent injuries at home like keeping children’s play areas free from tripping hazards, such as wires and toys, and away from heating sources, like stoves or ovens. He also recommends having ‘kid-free’ zones, like the kitchen especially 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.’
It is important to remember that young children need close adult supervision and when possible, to play on soft surfaces like grass or carpet so that if they fall they are less likely to incur a serious injury. He also warned about the dangers of fireworks, noting that when not handled properly, fireworks can cause serious burns and eye injuries. He recommends against the use of fireworks at home and suggests opting to attend public fireworks displays.
Children should never play with fireworks. Fireworks, firecrackers, and sparklers are just too unpredictable and unsafe for children and can lead to serious burns and even result in blindness or amputations.’
The Ministry of Public Health, together with HMC and the Primary Health Care Corporation have partnered again this year to re-launch the Ramadan Health website, event expanding the initiative by introducing a companion smartphone and tablet app.
Introduced two years ago, the Ramadan Health website is Qatar’s first online resource devoted to health and wellness during the Holy Month. Visit the Ramadan Health website through this link, or download the app to your phone or tablet by searching for ‘Qatar Health’ (available for iOS and Android operating systems).
Visit the HMC website for more information about related services this season.