'Many parents ignorant to summer safety rules'

Child safety group says many parents show “excessive confidence” but 96% don't know what age child can be left alone.

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May 29, 2012 06:11
3 minute read.
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Many parents show “excessive confidence” in their ability to keep their youngsters safe and say they do not need to learn about it, according to a new survey released on Monday by Beterem – the National Center for Children’s Safety and Health. It was issued to mark the beginning of Child Summer Safety Week on Tuesday.

The survey showed that despite their self-assurance, three out of five parents did not give their children any instructions for situations when they are alone and the electric power goes off, and 96 percent did not know at what age a child can legally be left alone (age six).

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The findings are unfortunate, said Beterem, as 45 children died from accidents last July and August – including burns, falls, poisonings, electrocution, choking on foreign objects and road accidents. This was a 30% decrease compared to the same period in 2010, but a 60% increase compared to that period in 2009.

The March poll of a representative sample of 507 parents (and grandparents) of children through age 17 was conducted by iPanel via the Internet. It showed that 41% of parents of children and teenagers thought they need no advice about child safety and insisted that they knew enough on the subject.

The more children they had, the more confident they felt that their experience had provided them with adequate knowledge. Residents of the South were more likely to say they needed no counselling than those in other regions.

While 60% did not brief their children about electrical failures, children could get electrocuted playing with fuse boxes, or could panic if left in the dark – especially at night. Most of the parents who maintained they did brief their children on this emergency only said to call an adult or go to neighbors, but did not advise them on exactly what to do about the lack of electricity.

Among Jewish minors, most of the drowning incidents occurred in the sea, while 15% were at the pool and 10% at agricultural and nature sites such as wells, oxygenation ponds, streams and reservoirs.

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But in the Arab sector, 64% of drownings were at such sites, compared to 36% in the sea, while many fewer drowned at pools (apparently because Arabs have lower access to such sites).

From birth to four years old was the riskiest age, with 41% of the cases involving children of this age group. The next most dangerous age was between 15 and 17, accounting for 33% of those killed. Boys were 2.2 times more likely than girls to be killed in accidents.

Of those parents who had a child hospitalized after an accident, half of those aged up to five who were hurt at home, in their yard or nearby were left without an adult’s close supervision.

Child Summer Safety Week will focus on adults’ responsibility, said Beterem director Orly Silbinger, since when an adult supervises, accidents are drastically reduced. “They must plan in advance and take the necessary steps to ensure that their children are safe through the summer,” she said.

In addition to getting an adult, whether on a paid or voluntary basis, to supervise children, design the home and orient habits for child safety by covering up electric outlets with special plastic plugs, installing devices that restrict temperatures of water heating devices and directing attention to children rather than to cellphones or other distractions.

Never leave a child –or a dog, for that matter – alone even for a moment in a closed, locked car, as they can die from heat in a short amount of time.

Whenever they lock the door, parents and drivers should ensure they have not left a child or pet behind.

Twenty municipalities and local authorities are participating in Child Summer Safety Week by organizing a variety of activities, along with hospitals, family health centers and other institutions. Local authorities will train summer camp administrators and counsellors to prevent accidents among their young charges.

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