- During the long summer months, children will be spending much of their time at home.
- He says that strict rules should be put in place or written down in the absence of the parents.
- He advises guardians to ensure that children abstain from putting paper under a lit stove and to keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
During the long summer months, children will be spending much of their time at home.
To safeguard against mishaps, the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) and the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) are recommending simple practices that guardians can adopt to ensure children’s safety during this holiday period.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the NPSC, Andre Miller, tells JIS News that there are several safety measures parents can adopt to protect their children.
He emphasises that children under the age of 12 must not be left alone. “At no time should they be left in any area unsupervised. However, in the event that children are left at home during the holiday, parents must ask a neighbour or a family friend to check in on them periodically,” Mr. Miller advises.
A list of emergency numbers should be written down and given to the children or the neighbour. They should also be placed on the refrigerator door and near the exit doors of the house.
These should include the parents’ work and cell numbers and the contact information of the family doctor and the numbers for the nearest Police station. The numbers of a neighbour and a close friend should also be written down and placed in a prominent area that is easily accessible.
Mr. Miller adds that even while parents may leave children with an older sibling during the summer period, it is important to remember that teenagers are also children.
He says that strict rules should be put in place or written down in the absence of the parents.
“Guardians must discuss with older siblings their responsibilities and ensure that they refrain from inviting friends to come to the house unless permission is given,” he says.
He also recommends that parents with a hectic work schedule check on the child regularly, two to three times daily via the telephone or messaging services, to ensure that the child is safe.
Swimming is a favourite activity during the hot summer months, and the NPSC official says parents must be vigilant when their children engage in this activity.
“If your home has a pool ensure that your child cannot access it without adult supervision. Encourage your child not to visit rivers or beaches without your permission or adult supervision. Parents must be extra vigilant when it comes to large bodies of water and their children,” he tells JIS News.
Where children are enrolled to participate in summer activities, such as camps, summer school and other events, Mr. Miller advises parents to ensure that sufficient supervision is provided prior to registration.
He also cautions parents to supervise and limit the children’s use of stoves or any equipment that may be harmful to them.
Meanwhile, Acting Assistant Superintendent, Fire Prevention Division, Jamaica Fire Brigade, Romeo Boyd, says guardians must supervise children closely, particularly in the kitchen.
He advises guardians to ensure that children abstain from putting paper under a lit stove and to keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children. He is also advising parents to discourage children from putting foreign objects in electrical outlets.
Mr. Boyd notes that in the summer, fires may be started due to the increased use of electrical devices which can cause electrical overload.
He says that overload of electrical extension cords or “piggybacking” commonly starts fires.
Superintendent Boyd recommends that sufficient electrical outlets should be used to prevent this and that these cords be placed in areas where there is minimum traffic.
“Do not put these cords under the rugs, mats or under doorways or in high traffic areas where persons walk, because this can cause it to chafe and short circuit. Supervise these things. Ensure that you don’t have too many things plugged in,” he says.
The Fire Brigade official adds that all households should formulate an emergency plan, ensuring that every member of the family is familiar with it, particularly children.
“Whether at work or at home you need to formulate an emergency plan in the event of a fire. Gather the family to organise this plan and determine where the emergency exits are, map out the shortest and safest routes to exit the building and determine an assembly point for every member of the family,” he says.
After evacuating the building, all persons should be aware of the location of the emergency assembly point. This should be an open area that is a safe distance from the building and is clear of any fire hazards, such as falling debris, gas cylinders and fuel. Avoid enclosed spaces as this can trap persons.
The numbers of the nearest fire station should be written down and placed in a prominent area that is central and accessible to everyone.