Drivers who do not buckle up all children in a vehicle are gambling with the lives of our most precious resource, say authorities. File photo: Matthew Jordaan/INLSA

Cape Town - In the light of the annual Easter Holidays coming up, Western Cape Government Health and ChildSafe would like to stress adults’ responsibility towards the safety of the young and vulnerable and the correct use of Emergency Centres.

“We, as adults, parents, and guardians are failing our children; especially kids under the age of 6,” said Profssor Sebastian van As, Head of Trauma at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

“The top 3 killers of children are traffic accidents (pedestrians and unrestrained children), drownings and burns. Child safety is the primary responsibility of parents and adults, however, the high number of injuries reported indicates a profound lack of adequate parental and adult supervision when children are at home or while travelling,” he said.

The Easter holidays can be both a joyful and stressful time of year. Families are shopping and taking road trips to visit relatives and friends. Here are tips from the Western Cape Government Health and ChildSafe for keeping your kids safe during holiday travel.

  • Everybody needs their own seatbelt. Make it a rule: everyone buckled, every ride, every time, whether it’s the long trip to visit family or around the block to the mall. Use car seats and booster seats with young children and ensure that everyone in the vehicle buckles up before departing on your trip. 
  • The back seat is the best. It is the safest place to ride for all children under age 13. Not all cars allow for a car seat in every place that has a seat belt. Check your car owner manual to see where you can put a car seat.
  • Avoid distractions while driving. No text message or playlist is worth the risk of taking your eyes off the road. Set your GPS or Google Maps to voice activated so you can concentrate on the road ahead.
  • Pay attention when driving, and take special care to teach children about pedestrian safety, as the largest majority of traffic-related accidents presenting at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital during 2018 involve children in pedestrian-related accidents.
  • Watch out for small kids and distracted drivers on the roads and in parking lots that are busier than usual during the holidays.

“The Easter long weekend period is often accompanied with increased activity and extraordinary vehicle numbers on our roads, over a short period of time. We want to highlight the safety of children when travelling over this period. I want to urge parents to do their bit to ensure their children are safely buckled up when travelling, especially children under age of 6 years old. 

Over the last five Easter periods we have seen an increase in road fatalities; with last year (2018) figure standing at 27 fatalities. Injuries are one of the biggest burdens of disease within Health, and more than half of accidental deaths are related to road injuries. We therefore urge motorists; especially those travelling with children, to please ensure children are safely buckled up,” said Western Cape Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.

Statistics for Transport related admissions to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital involving children over the last 4 years. (ChildSafe, April 2019).

Statistics for Transport related admissions to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital involving children over the last 4 years. (ChildSafe, April 2019).

In the lead up and during the Easter weekend the public can assist the Department in alleviating pressures experienced at Emergency Centres (ECs). 

"We know that emergencies are never scheduled and often come at the most inconvenient of times – especially during holidays when roads are packed with motorists going on holiday when the province experiences a dramatic influx of people. This also brings a great number of road accidents that leaves families devastated," the department said.

The ECs are the entry points into the public hospitals and therefore face the brunt of the pressure, when dealing with motor vehicle accidents and other trauma-related incidents. They are built to perform their core function, which is to render quick and efficient emergency medical care, and are staffed accordingly. When less-than-urgent cases flood the ECs, it causes a reduction in efficiency of both the emergency service and the routine medical care provided. Simply because the facility is not built to deal optimally with non-emergency cases. 

Clients with non-urgent and non-life threatening injuries or illnesses can visit their local Primary Health Care (PHC) facility such as a 24 hour Community Health Centre (CHC) or clinic where they can be assisted much quicker, making more efficient use of the system.

Clients are urged to find out the details of their nearest health facility most appropriate for their needs by visiting the Department’s facility locator on https://www.westerncape.gov.za/static/health-facilities/

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