Posted on June 17, 2018

While Eid Al Fitr is a joyous time of year it is also a time when parents need to be extra cautious. A safety expert from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is providing tips to help parents ensure that their children stay safe and healthy during the holiday season.

Dr. Rafael Consunji, Director of the Hamad Injury Prevention Program (HIPP), the community outreach arm of HMC’s Trauma Surgery Section, says this time of year many families will spend a lot more time traveling to and from family gatherings and public events. He says parking lots and streets are often busier than normal, underscoring the need to keep an extra close eye on young children. He is also reminding the public about the importance of correctly restraining children while traveling by car.

“The proper use of car safety seats or seatbelts helps keep children and adults safer. All children younger than 13 years of age 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 our roads. 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. Be a defensive driver; keep a safe following distance that will give you time to brake if the car in front of you suddenly stops, and use your signal lights to warn other motorists of your intentions” said Dr. Consunji.

He says it is equally important for parents to teach their children about traffic safety and the proper way to cross the street. Adults should be role models by always using designated crosswalks and sidewalks when walking with their children. Children under the age of 10 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 children wear bright-colored 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’s) during the break, Dr. Consunji says it is important to remember that these vehicles are designed for one passenger. He says young children, below 16 years, should not drive or ride ATVs and that safely operating an ATV requires a driver who has enough strength, training, and experience. Many children are hurt as ATV passengers or when they are allowed to drive these powerful vehicles. ATV’s are not toys and children should be kept away from them, Dr. Consunji emphasized.

In preparation for Eid, Dr. Consunji is also reminding parents and caregivers who will be entertaining children at home about the importance of age-appropriate toys and activities. He says there is a lot we can do to prevent injuries in the home, noting that the home can be a hazardous place for infants and young children in particular. He recommends keeping children’s play areas free from tripping hazards, like wires and toys, and away from heating sources, like stoves or ovens. He also recommends having ‘kid-free’ zones, such as the kitchen 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,” said Dr. Consunji. He says it is important to remember that young children need close adult supervision and when possible he recommends playing on soft surfaces like grass or carpet so that if children do fall they are less likely to incur a serious injury. He is also warning 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,” said Dr. Consunji.

The Ministry of Public Health, HMC, and Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) have partnered again this year to re-launch the Ramadan Health website and have expanded 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 at www.hamad.qa/ramadanhealth, or download the app to your phone or tablet by searching for ‘Qatar Health’ (available for iOS and Android operating systems).

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