Childhood injury in South Africa is an unrelenting health problem of epidemic proportions. In South Africa more than 10 children under the age of 15 years die from injuries daily due to motor vehicle crashes, drowning, poisoning, violence and other hazards. This clearly indicates that children are not living in a safe environment.
As the convention of the Rights of the Child state, children have a right to a safe environment. We as adults, caregivers and parents have to take responsibility and make sure that our children learn, play and grow up in a safe environment without the threat of being hurt. The environment South African children are exposed to unfortunately pose various dangers that lead to fatal and severe injuries.
With National Child Accident Prevention Month the Child Accident Prevention Foundation (CAPFSA) and other stakeholders aim to raise awareness and promote actions that will reduce the unacceptably high rate of childhood injuries and deaths. With this health month, emphasis will be placed on creating a safer environment for children.
This year CAPFSA is highlighting the dangers that children face daily in the home, the school, and the road and during play in the community. This month further aims to: provide clear and accurate safety information to the public, encourage local communities to take part in child safety activities and to encourage the media to provide positive coverage of the importance of child injury prevention.
One of the main focus areas for this month will be burn prevention. High numbers of shack fires, due to human error, occur over and over again. There are many victims, some of whom are children, who suffer severe burns resulting in long term scaring both physically and psychologically. In 2005 the Cape Town Fire Department estimates that more than 6 000 shacks were destroyed by fire. This was after the Joe Slovo fire disaster where 4 000 shacks were destroyed by flames. Fallen candles are often mentioned as the cause of some of these fires. The following are to mention a few:
- 140 flee their beds as fire races through Barcelona shacks – a burning candle in one of the homes fell over – Cape Times – 13 Jan 2006
- Toddlers burn to death in their sleep – candle in their room fell over – The Mercury 12 April 06
- Two boys die in fire near Durban – father left them with burning candle - IOL Web 11 Feb 06
- Four people die in shack fire - burning candle fell over – IOL Web 2 April 06
- Cape girl dies in container blaze – falling candle - Cape Times 15 May 06
The Child Accident Prevention Foundation with staff from The Red Cross Children’s Hospital will be launching a candle in a jar project during this safety month at the hospital. Education and demonstrations around the safe use of candles and distribution of these to parents will take place at the hospital.
We appeal to whoever has a large glass jar at home to donate it to us or give it to someone who might use it. Jars can be dropped off at the Staff Education Building, Red Cross Children’s Hospital. We would also like to appeal to the public to tell others about the safety messages.
More information on the safe use of candles and other activities for child safety month are available from CAPFSA.
For more information contact Nelmarie du Toit at CAPFSA Tel 021 6855208.