Travelling with children can be stressful. From the moment you start packing, to your arrival at your destination and throughout the holiday, kids can be magnets for accidents.
The summer holiday is a time when we enjoy long, fun-filled days with family and friends but according to ChildSafe, an injury prevention unit based at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, it is also a time which brings a harvest of injuries to children.
“Bored children are more likely to investigate new ‘risky’ objects and areas. Children like to explore ‘new territory’, therefore this holiday season we encourage all parents and caregivers to actively supervise their children and be extra be vigilant,” says Thilda Nel, executive director of ChildSafe.
Children under the age of six are most at risk of preventable injuries such as burns, falls, poison, suffocation, drowning, choking and electrocution, ChildSafe adds.
There are steps you can take prepare your family for a crisis and limit harm to your little ones.
When visiting more remote destinations, having the right tools in your kit can be invaluable to manage holiday ills, chills and spills.
So, what to pack?
Dr Candice Royal, a paediatrician and allergologist, suggests the following for your emergency kit:
• 1% hydrocortisone ointment for bites, itches and rashes;• topical antiseptic creams like betadine or suproban;
• a disinfectant solution;
• a cooling spray like Bioderma SOS spray has been invaluable to me for everything from sunburn and eczema flares to bee and jellyfish stings;
• insect repellant (check the malaria status at your destination);• a non-sedating antihistamine for itchy, sneezy and runny or mild allergic reactions;
• pain and fever medications: paracetamol and ibuprofen. For children under five, it is always a good idea to have both a syrup and a suppository form;
• a saline nasal spray;
• a decongestant nose spray such as iliadin;
• stool binding agents that safely treat diarrhoea such as Tasectan or Smecta sachets;
• rehydration sachets;
• hypospamol for stomach aches;
• cyclizine syrup for nausea/ motion sickness;
• plasters, gauze and steri-strips; and
• eye drops like natural tears or spersallerg especially if your little ones will be swimming a lot.
Many people are prone to motion sickness, whether they travel by car, boat or aeroplane. Sometimes nausea can be caused by indulging in all kinds of snacks on the road.
“Avoid eating a big meal prior to travel. Dress your child in cool, comfortable clothing. A medication that blocks the histamine receptor, such as cyclizine, can be taken one to two hours prior to travel to prevent motion sickness. But please note these medications may make your child feel sleepy or restless.” Royal explains.
She adds that it would be best to seat your child in a well-ventilated area, let them take small sips of cool water during travel and chew a mint or mint-flavoured gum if they are age-appropriate.
Royal advises to seek medical care in the following circumstances:
• Your child is unable to drink fluids or is vomiting them up repeatedly or shows signs of dehydration such as no urine for 12 hours.
• Your child has recurrent fever over 40°C or a fever for more than three days.
• Your child is breathing faster than usual or has difficulty breathing.
• A rash that looks like bleeding under the skin or purple/red freckles.
• A severe headache.
• A bite or skin rash that has become hard and red and appears to be growing quickly.
Play it safe!
ChildSafe’s tips for parents:
• Always keep within the speed limit.
• Also ensure that all passengers are buckled up, even for short trips.
• Never leave children unsupervised near or around water.
• Parents and caregivers should be responsible when consuming alcohol because numerous injuries to children occur when caregivers are under the influence of alcohol.
• Kids love to reach, so to prevent burns from hot holiday food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge.
• If your child’s heart is set on a bike, skateboard or scooter this holiday season, be sure to include a helmet to keep them safe while they’re having fun.
• Lights are one of the best parts of holiday decorating. Look at the ones on your tree and in and around your home for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.
Get help!• In a poison emergency, call 0861 555 777.• In case of other emergencies, call 10177 or 112.