A paediatric emergency medicine specialist at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is reminding parents and caregivers about the importance of supervising young children, noting that children are naturally curious and are at high risk of having an accident, including accidental poisoning.

Young children are inquisitive, often putting things in their mouth out of curiosity and are unaware of the consequences. Locking up dangerous household items, including medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, paint thinner, windshield washer fluid, gasoline, and pesticides, can help reduce the risk of accidental poisoning. However, Dr Khalid Al Yafei, Senior Consultant of Paediatric Emergency Medicine at HMC said that childproofing is not a substitute for supervision.

Teaching children about safety and what is and is not dangerous is an important strategy for preventing accidents and reducing a child’s risk of injuring themselves. In most cases, a child is exposed to poison without knowing that it may be harmful. Young children do not know the difference between what is safe and what is dangerous. Parents and caregivers must take responsibility for making their home safe for children.’

Noting that the number of accidents involving children increases during the summer months, holidays, and during weekends, Dr Al Yafei stresses that identifying and understanding the potential risks and taking some basic safety measures, it’s possible for parents and caregivers to keep their children safe.

Dr Al Yafei says parents should be particularly aware of the risk of food and chemical poisonings, as well as unintentional injuries caused by falls, burns and scalds, electric shocks, glass, and drowning. He says the type of childhood injuries that occur in the home is often linked to a child’s age and level of development.

It can sometimes be difficult for parents to keep up with their child’s capabilities. For example, parents often underestimate the ability of their child to get into seemingly inaccessible places, so it is important to be aware of the common types of injuries that happen to babies and young children and to learn how they can prevent them.’

Dr Al Yafei says that during the hot summer months, it is important for parents to be particularly aware of the risks of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and sunburn. He added that incidents of food poisoning increase during the summer, largely due to the hot and humid weather. He noted that while most cases of food poisoning do not require medical attention, it is important to see a doctor if the affected child experiences vomiting that lasts more than 12 hours, has diarrhoea with a fever higher than 101°F, has severe belly pain, or a racing or pounding heart.

Cases of food poisoning and travel illness affecting children while on holidays abroad are unfortunately not uncommon. It is important for parents to protect their children from unnecessary exposure to contaminated foods and drink during their travel. Both children and adults can easily fall sick if they consume food that is improperly processed or stored.’

For updates and more information about HMC services, visit hamad.qa