Crucial summer safety tips

Netcare 911 spokesperson Sarah Kekana. PHOTO: Supplied

The South African summer holidays should be a time for joy and relaxation, but emergencies occur all the time. Netcare 911 has these important safety tips to ensure a happy holiday.

“Water, fire and the sun can be elements of perfect summer days or a recipe for disaster, depending on how prepared we are for the potential risks,” said Sarah Kekana, Netcare 911 spokesperson.

Be safe around the braai fire

“Spending time around a fire and outdoor cooking are characteristically South African, and especially popular this time of year. Some basic precautions are necessary to keep everyone safe and prevent burns,” she said.

  • Make your fire safely away from anything flammable, including dry grass or leaves, overhanging trees, buildings or roofing
  • Keep wood, charcoal and firelighters well away from the fire – a spark can ignite materials meters away
  • Keep a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher ready
  • Do not use liquid fire starters
  • Remove any hazards around the fireplace
  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance
  • Do not wear flammable clothing when tending to a fire
  • Be aware that hot grills can cause burns, so store them safely once removed from the fire
  • Never leave a fire unsupervised, always extinguish it when you have finished
  • Save emergency contact details, including 082 911, and be ready with the Netcare App if needed

Water safety

“The risk of drowning tragically increases with hot weather, and drowning can occur anywhere. It is important to constantly assess any potential risks around water, particularly where children are concerned,” said Kekana.

  •  Never swim alone
  • Never swim in the sea, dams or rivers at night
  • Don’t swim under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants
  • When near water, children must always be supervised by a responsible adult who is not distracted
  • Ensure children do not have access to pools, ponds, water features, baths, or even a bucket of water or an open toilet – young children can drown in just 4cm of water
  • Ensure your swimming pool is covered with a pool net or enclosed with a SABS-approved fence to prevent children from accidentally falling into the water
  • At the beach, only swim in designated areas with lifeguards and don’t swim far out
  • Remember, swimming in the sea is very different to swimming in a pool or dam, even for experienced swimmers
  • Do not dive into any body of water if you cannot see what is below the surface, and always be sure to test the depth

Hot weather

  • Sunburn is an ever-present danger, so parents must regularly apply high-protection factor sunscreen to their children
  • Outdoor activities should be avoided during the hottest part of the day
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks
  • Senior citizens are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, so take special care to ensure that they are kept cool and well hydrated
  • Antihistamines, diuretics, and alcohol should be avoided if spending time in the sun
  • Never leave your child or anyone – including a pet – in a parked car, even for short periods

“Make a list of emergency contact numbers, including emergency medical services and stick it on the fridge or anywhere that will be quick to find when needed. Keep the number saved on all cell phones and on a visible card near landline telephones,” said Kekana.

Compiled by Justine Fortuin