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Safety culture and children

We as parents want to protect our children from the fears and worries that they may face, allowing them to be children; to play, to learn and stay safe in the knowledge that the grownup’s will be there to protect them, no matter what.

As public safety threats facing the Pakistani public have changed, so has the way in which many Pakistanis think about safety. The earthquake, floods, accidents at home in the workplace and on roads coupled with the increasing number of terrorist attacks have changed that perception to a degree.

People are now talking about safety and working to inculcate “safety culture” in their workplace, schools etc. However many will often neglect the importance of discussing and teaching accident prevention and safety in the home.

As a parent, if any of my children find themselves witnessing the collapse of an adult relative, their own survival may depend them knowing what actions to take. Children can learn the basics of first aid and simple safety rules from a young age, as any teacher will testify that the curious minds of children are like sponges and absorb the environmental, verbal and kinaesthetic cues during the learning experience better than most adults.

So the next question is, how do we as parents impart this knowledge to our children in a way that is engaging, fun and allows the information to be retained?

It’s really as simple as ABC:

A: Allow the child to ask you questions and take the lead – Use what trainers like to call the “teach back” method by asking your child to “show you” and “teach you”

B: Bring a sense of humour – We have all been there as students, the lecturer who drones on and whilst highly knowledgeable is about as engaging as a door stop, remember that children easily switch off – be engaging, make a game out of it.

C: Conclude with congratulations- provide a star sticker, or clap to reinforce the positive action so that your child feels s/he has done something to be proud of.

The basics every adult and child should know should be the DRSABC which is the key to helping save a life:

D is for Danger – is the area safe from danger

R is for Response – Approach the casualty and ask them if they can hear you*, can they respond? – tap them on their shoulder and ask “are you okay, can you hear me?” *If possible, approach the casualty from the feet, this is prevents the hyper extension of the next by the casualty if they are conscious and can prevent possible neck injuries!

S is for shout – Shout for help: Get someone’s attention: Remember if you are on your own do not leave the casualty at this stage

A is for Airways: With an unresponsive casualty open their always using the head-tilt-chin-life method.

B is for breathing: After opening the airway, Look, Listen and Feel for normal breathing for no more than 10 seconds. If the casualty is not breathing dial 1122/15.

C is for compression: in the simplified form of CPR training called continuous chest compression only CPR, at this stage you would commence chest compressions until the ambulance arrives or the casualty regains consciousness, if you become tired and there is a bystander willing to help, instruct them how to do compression and keep rotating until the ambulance arrives.

The above is the basic knowledge everyone should know, whilst this information is no substitute to a CPR course, it is a starting point for you to get thinking about safety in the home.

Other things that you can discuss with your children:

– How to treat a cut or a bleeding wound?

– How to treat a small burn?

– How to apply a cold compress?

– How to roll someone into the recovery position?

– Helping someone who is suffering from shock?

In addition to first aid topics, you can also teach children about online safety, wearing seatbelts, road safety, and safety in the home and when outside playing, but remember that keeping it light, relevant and engaging is the key.

Whilst I could go on about safety education and how we as parents can apply this in the home or workplace, just remember when dealing with children, remember that they are children. Part of our role as parents is to assure them they will never need to overstep their abilities.

Make sure your children know that their first and most important job is their own safety. If they ever encounter a dangerous situation, they should know how to get help and should their friends or family ever need a plaster for a cut or some ice for a bump they know how to help.

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