Holiday safety tips for parents

Prevention and first aid advice for child emergencies
Thursday, December 22 2022

The summer holidays and festive season are a special time for children, and seeing their joy is a blessing for families to behold. At this time of year there are unfortunately also many additional dangers when it comes to child safety. Here are some handy tips from Netcare 911 to help prevent injuries along with some advice on what to do in a medical emergency involving a child.

“Any accident where people are hurt is bad enough, but the most painful to see are those involving children. We would like all drivers to consider the innocent lives that are at stake every time we get behind the steering wheel,” says Gary Paul, Netcare 911’s head of coastal operations.

“Please do not drink and drive, the consequences of alcohol on our roads at this time of year are chilling. As emergency medical service providers, we urge everyone to obey the rules of the road, wear seatbelts, stop regularly to take a break during long trips, and make sure children are safely in their car seats and buckled up when driving any distance.”

Pic: Operational readiness, extensive planning, strategic partnerships and teamwork are all critical from an emergency services perspective especially during holiday seasons. Travellers can be assured that Netcare 911 is ready to provide emergency medical care when the need arises, shoulder to shoulder with all other emergency services. Pictured here while training to be prepared for the festive season, from left to right, is Gary Paul, Head of Coastal Operations of Netcare 911, Shaun Paul, Netcare 911’s regional operations manager for KwaZulu-Natal and Netcare 911, rescue officer Konrad Jones.

Gary’s identical twin brother, Shaun Paul is Netcare 911’s regional operations manager for KwaZulu-Natal. “From our experience in previous years, we know that this is an especially busy time on South Africa’s roads, and this unfortunately usually leads to more medical emergencies, particularly when people let their guard down,” Shaun adds.

Safety tips to help prevent child injuries in motor vehicle accidents
  • Driver fatigue and drunk driving are two major and preventable contributors to road accidents. Stop for regular breaks and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Keep your eyes on the road at all times and be vigilant of other road users.
  • Car seats are vitally important. It is also important to ensure that children are secured with seat belts in the back seating area and NOT the front seat.
  • Children should not be allowed to stand while the vehicle is moving.
  • Do not be distracted by mobile devices while driving.  This is unfortunately common.
  • Never leave a child or an elderly person in a parked car, even for short periods. The very same rule applies to pets. Remember, cars become very hot, very quickly, which can result in severe dehydration or heatstroke.


Awareness and prevention

“Another crucial aspect of safety over the holidays is not to let your children play unsupervised, as injuries or drownings can happen very quickly and often silently. So, don’t count on being alerted by a noise to attract your attention if you are otherwise preoccupied. When supervising children, do not allow yourself to be distracted by phones or laptops. Rather, put that phone down and spend quality time with your family,” Gary advises.

“If you don’t have children in the home but are expecting visitors with children, make sure that your home is safe for children and that they cannot get hold of any medicines, cleaning products or other potentially harmful items. Lock or secure cupboards containing such products, as curious little children can get their hands on anything that is not firmly out of reach.”

An increasingly common ‘hidden’ danger over the festive season is that of children swallowing lithium or ‘button’ batteries, which may be found in toys, remote controls, watches and home appliances. If swallowed, these small batteries, sometimes as small as a 20 cent coin, can become lodged in the airway, or can cause severe burns in the oesophagus and, tragically, may even be fatal.

“Parents should be aware of the appliances and toys in their homes that contain such batteries and ensure that the cover of the battery compartment is secured with screws or by taping it to keep it securely closed.  Do not leave batteries lying around where curious children could find them.”

“Like other first responders, being a paramedic is both a calling and a very fulfilling profession, and we are all passionate about what we do, but prevention is always better. Through public awareness and responsible precautions, it is possible to avoid some of these accidents from happening in the first place,” Shaun adds.

“Operational readiness, extensive planning, strategic partnerships and teamwork are all critical from an emergency services perspective especially during holiday seasons. Travellers can be assured that Netcare 911 is ready to provide emergency medical care when the need arises, shoulder to shoulder with all other emergency services,” he concludes.

How to help a child in an emergency
  • Contact emergency medical services, such as Netcare 911 (082 911), or get someone else to call while you assess your child’s condition.
  • Check to see if the child is conscious. If a child is unconscious, it is a medical emergency and urgent medical assistance is needed.
  • Do not move the injured child unless to remove them from a dangerous situation. Do not move the child if you have any concerns that there may be a spinal injury or any fractures. Netcare 911’s trained personnel can advise you over the phone whether it is safe to move the child.
  • Check if the child’s airway is open and if the child is breathing and feel for a pulse. If there is no pulse, start with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. Netcare 911 can guide you to perform child CPR correctly, telephonically or via video link to your phone, until help arrives on scene.
  • Check for excessive or uncontrolled bleeding. Stop excessive bleeding by applying pressure to the wound area and stay on the line with the operator until paramedics arrive.
  • If your child sustains an injury to the head, especially in case of smaller children, it is important to seek a medical assessment – even if the child did not lose consciousness. If your child is drowsy or more sleepy than usual after hitting their head or starts vomiting, this may be a sign of a severe head injury.
Unsure if it’s an emergency? Netcare 911 is here to help

“If you are ever unsure of whether your child needs medical care, the Netcare 911 national emergency operation centre can provide expert assistance in determining what steps are necessary, at any time of day or night,” adds Gary.


Netcare 911’s national emergency operation centre has trained emergency medical personnel available to support callers in a medical emergency by explaining to them how to assist the patient until paramedics arrive on scene. Telehealth consultations are also available via secure video link, to assist with a more detailed immediate assessment of the patient remotely.


Notes to editor

Looking for a medical appointment? Netcare appointmed™ will make appointments for YOU with specialists practising at Netcare hospitals, GPs and dentists at Medicross medical and dental centres, and specialists at Akeso mental health facilities. Simply request an appointment online at or phone Netcare appointmed™  on 0860 555 565, Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 17:00.
To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please visit or contact the Netcare customer service centre either by email at [email protected] or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.

For media enquiries, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:   MNA on behalf of Netcare 911
For media enquiries contact:    Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster and Clementine Forsthofer
Telephone:     (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] [email protected] or [email protected]