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Plunket: Keeping Kids Safe

Plunket: Keeping Kids Safe

Information from Royal New Zealand Plunket Society Inc


Designated Child Minders

All children deserve the best protection they can get, and mums and dads deserve a relaxing summer break. Plunket suggests designating a child minder is a simple way to ensure a fun and safe family holiday this summer.

Plunket’s national safety advisor, Sue Campbell, says taking turns with who will keep their undivided attention on the children allows others to rest assured their children are safe and having fun also.

“At large gatherings or parties with alcohol, it’s important not to lose track of who is looking after the well-being of children. One of more designated child minders, depending on the number of children present, can make sure the children are kept away from hazards such as barbecues, reversing vehicles and open water.

“The designated child minders can also keep parent/child stress at a minimum by helping to make sure children have fun activities, quiet times and meals they need to be at their best while they are their parents enjoy themselves.

“Little children are vulnerable and dependent on the good care and supervision of responsible and attentive adults. When planning ahead for summer activities and fun, it is wise to consider ways of protecting children from any unsafe or trying situations,” says Sue Campbell.


Kids in Cars at Christmas

“Buckle them up and keep them cool” is the plea from Plunket for parents travelling with young children in motor vehicles this summer.

Whether going across country or just across town to the supermarket, popping the kids in the car has a serious side to consider.

Sue Campbell, Plunket’s national child safety adviser, says that heat exhaustion is a real issue for children in hot summer months.

“Parents should ensure that young children are protected from the sun by attaching shade panels to car windows, providing plenty of cool drinks and never leaving a child alone in a motor vehicle,” she says.

She adds that care should also be taken when securing children into car seats when the motor vehicle has been in the sun.

“Seat buckles and plastic covers can become extremely hot causing burns or severe discomfort for young children.

“If fitment advice or additional child restraints are required for visiting children, contact your local Plunket car seat rental scheme. It is important that children are correctly restrained at all times while travelling in motor vehicles, in fact, it is a legal requirement,” says Sue Campbell.


Release 3 - Sun Safety

Sun Safety

No matter the age, summer and sun bring images of fun. In recent years summer sun has also come to mean taking special care, especially with young children who rely on you to keep them safe while they enjoy being a child.

Sue Campbell, Plunket’s national child safety advisor, offers some sun safety reminders as we head into another welcome summer:

Sunburn can cause painful burns, lead to long term skin damage and higher risk of skin cancer later in life. Babies can burn quickly in the sun so it is best to keep them in the shade at all times. Children can burn even on a cloudy day.

You can protect them from sunburn by:

 Making sure young children always wear hats with wide brims or caps with flaps when they are outside.

 Keeping them protected with clothes that cover their arms, legs and bodies.

 Restricting the amount of time they spend playing in direct sunlight. The hours between 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. are the most dangerous.

 Using a sunscreen on exposed parts of the body. Talk to your pharmacist about the most suitable sunscreen for your child. Remember sunscreens do have an expiry date and most need to be reapplied after swimming.

 Children in prams and buggies need protection. Keep children's eyes shaded from the sun, skin covered and use a sun shade on the buggy whenever possible

Children learn by watching your good example – seeing you wearing a hat outside and covering up with suitable clothing is setting them up with good habits for a sun safe, fun safe life!


Release 4 - Water Safety

Water Safety

Young children love water and are attracted to it. For most children, getting messy, muddy and wet means a good time! However, it also means careful supervision on the part of their parent or caregiver, at all times, whether in the bath, in the garden, or at the beach or swimming pools. A child can drown in water as little as four centimetres deep – the length of your little finger. When away from home or visiting, always be sure to check out each place for hazards.

Safety in the bath

 Children must have a responsible person with them at all times until they are at least five years of age.

 When young children are in the bath, don’t be distracted and never leave them alone.

 If you have to leave the bathroom for some reason, take the baby or young child with you.

Around the house and garden

 Do not leave buckets or other large containers of water where a young child can reach them.

 Keep bathroom and laundry doors shut.

 Little children are not safe in paddling pools unless they are supervised. Always empty a paddling pool after the children have finished playing in it.

 Fish ponds and other ornamental containers of water are a risk to children as are stock troughs and drinking ponds.

 Turn anything that could collect water upside down to prevent water collection.

Swimming pools

 All swimming and spa pools must be securely fenced and comply with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987.

 Flotation aids such as arm bands or water rings do not keep your child safe.

 Teach your child water safety rules such as waiting until an adult can get in the water with them and not to run around pools.

Beaches and other swimming holes

 Beaches and swimming holes can have hidden dangers such as rips and deep holes. Always go into the water with young children.

 Watch children carefully if they are paddling or playing at the waters edge.

 Young children in boats of any sort must always have a life jacket on and wear a harness.


Release 5 – Camping holidays

Camping Holidays

Camping is a great New Zealand tradition. Many children grow up with memories of an annual retreat to the beach or bush. Camping with very young children requires additional organising and even with modern conveniences such as, disposable nappies and baby wipes, a lot of planning ahead is required.

Sue Campbell, Plunket’s national child safety advisor, feels the extra planning pays off for the whole family by keeping the children safe and happy. She suggests some sensible precautions from Plunket:

Children require very close supervision when on a camping holiday.

 Crowded campgrounds are filled with vehicles on the move all the time. Young children are often hard to see, they might run out in front of cars and have little sense of safety around traffic.

 Always check the safety of the playground and equipment. Young children should not be allowed in a camp playground unsupervised.

 Camping often involves cooking on open fires or barbecues. Supervise children around these at all times and keep the matches and lighters safely out of children’s reach.

 Parents can be distracted by other adults or the chores of camping and little children can wander off very quickly. Keep a watchful eye on them or be sure to designate a child minder you can rely on to look after them.

 Tired or bored children can stretch the patience of parents trying to relax – keep your cool and plan to keep the children busy, entertained and well rested.

 Try to find camping sites that are in the shade or have nearby shade – limit the family’s exposure to direct sun and use a sunscreen.


Keeping things cool and coping with stress

Keeping Things Cool and Coping with Stress

Christmas festivities and holidays away from home are great fun and create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. At times though, too much of a good thing is hard to handle, especially when you are young and your self control and coping mechanisms are just being shaped.

Angela Baldwin, Plunket’s general manager of clinical services, explains young children can find too much fun and excitement tiring and stressful.

‘When routines are upset and they feel overloaded, children can be expected to sometimes be more difficult or demanding and less cooperative than usual. If this happens at the same time the grown ups in their lives feel out of balance or short tempered, the life long memories that result might be of a very different sort.’

Parents and designated child minders can reduce the amount of difficult behaviour they have to cope with by planning their activities to make sure that young children:

- Stick to their normal routines as much as possible.

- Get their normal needs for activity, rest and food met regularly.

- Are not exposed to long periods of frustration like being confined in a car, or being expected to play happily while parents socialise.

- Are kept interested and entertained with suitable activities at all times when they are awake.

Away from home the normal principles of positive parenting still apply:

- Spend time with your children and do things with them.

- Plan and make activities fun.

- If children are old enough to understand and co-operate, explain to them how you want them to behave.

- When children behave well, give them words of encouragement.

- Try to anticipate and avoid problems in advance. When this is not possible and problems arise, try to stay calm and explain what you want rather than smacking the child.

Plunket suggests adults remember to look after their own needs for balance as well so they are able to enjoy holiday time with their children. Where possible, they might share the supervision and entertaining of young children with a designated child minder – other parents or responsible adults who understand children’s well being and safety requirements. Designated child minders should agree to make the children at gatherings their sole focus so others can relax and recharge.


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