Road Crashes Remain the 2nd Leading Cause of Death in Children – A Major Threat to Child Safety in South Africa this Festive Season

CAPE TOWN – The Festive Season is just around the corner, bringing joy and celebration to households across South Africa. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that this period also poses a significant risk to children’s safety. According to ChildSafe South Africa, child injuries, including drownings, car accidents, poison indigestion, and head injuries, are alarmingly prevalent during this time. Shockingly, road crashes in South Africa stand as the second leading cause of death for children aged 5-14 years.

As we embark on the Festive Season, it is imperative that parents and caregivers actively supervise their children and remain extra vigilant, particularly when it comes to road safety. According to the African Brain Child’s recent report, 96 out of every 100 children involved in a crash end up at the trauma unit with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury because they were not wearing a seatbelt. By using age-appropriate car seats, fatalities can be reduced by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers appropriately restrained and secured by wearing a seatbelt.

The consumption of alcohol during the holidays also presents a considerable danger to child safety. Impaired self-control and lack of adequate supervision often lead to accidents. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to remain vigilant and practice responsible safety measures, which include being mindful of alcohol consumption and appointing a designated driver when attending family and celebratory events.

Not only do child-related accidents increase during the Festive Season, but violence against children also becomes a grave concern. Inadequate recreational, sports, and cultural activities in townships result in risky behaviour and children roaming unsupervised, making them vulnerable to abuse and violence, including sexual abuse.

To address these challenges and keep children safe during the Festive Season, it is crucial to promote and strengthen a holistic community child safety approach. This approach should involve all stakeholders, including children, parents, community members, service providers, and local and provincial authorities.

ChildSafe offers the following safety tips to ensure children’s well-being during this period:

Be a mindful driver: Always adhere to speed limits, watch out for pedestrians, and check for children playing around your vehicle before driving off. Remember, children are safer in the back seat.

Check your child’s car seat before holiday travel: Ensure that car seats are used and installed correctly. Buckle up all passengers, even for short trips. For older children, use booster seats until they reach the age of 12.

Preventing burns: Keep hot holiday foods and liquids away from young children. Never hold a small child while drinking hot beverages. Take caution when running a bath and use cold water first, testing the temperature before leaving a child unattended. Extinguish braai fires with cold water.

Ensure a safe environment: Store matches and lighters out of reach of children. Keep holiday candles away from flammable objects, ensuring they are extinguished when unattended or before sleep.

Choose age-appropriate toys: Consider the age of your child when purchasing toys and avoid choking hazards. Read instructions and warning labels thoroughly.

Be cautious with button batteries: Keep an eye on small game pieces, including button batteries, that could be hazardous to younger children.

Prioritize helmet use: If gifting bicycles or other toys, make sure to include a helmet to protect children during play.

Childproof your decorations: When decorating the tree, ensure that breakable ornaments and those with metal hooks are placed at the top, out of children’s reach.

Check tree lights and any other decorative lights for frayed wires, loose connections, or broken sockets.

Tips to keep children safe from poisons.

– Be careful when visiting other people’s homes where medications and poisonous substances may not be safely locked away.

– Being out of one’s routine may make one more forgetful. When traveling, do not keep medications in travel or shopping bags where they are easily accessible to curious children. Make sure all medications are safely stored away immediately after use.

– Hand sanitiser is everywhere! Make especially sure that toddlers cannot reach it to drink it or spray it in their eyes.

– Hot summer days mean everyone is thirstier. Be careful that paraffin or other poisonous liquids such as methylated spirits or thinners are not decanted into juice bottles where they may look like water or juice.

Tips to keep children safe from drowning.

– Never leave a child alone near water: bath, pool, river, dam or sea.

– Swim at beaches where and when lifeguards are on duty – Lifeguards are on duty at selected beaches. Only swim between the lifeguard flags.

– Don’t Drink and Drown – Never drink alcohol and then go swimming.

– Adult supervision and creating barriers to water are vital.

– Adults who are supervising children in water must be able to swim.

– Know how to survive rip currents – Learn about rip currents on the NSRI website.

-Only swim when lifeguards are on duty.

– Don’t attempt a rescue by yourself – Call a lifeguard or the NSRI by dialling 112 from your cell phone for help. Throw something that floats to the person in difficulty.

– Do not let children use floating objects, toys or tire tubes at the beach or on dams.

– You can very quickly get blown away from the shore. If a child can’t swim and falls off in deep water they will drown.

– Make sure that the pool gate is child-safe and closed and a child safe pool net is in place.

– Designate one responsible person to look after children who are swimming.

-Do not leave toys inside the pool area after swimming.

– Do not be distracted by your cell phone or social media.

– While you are looking after children in or near water you need to focus on the children.

– Learn how to do CPR – Learn how to do CPR and rescue breaths safely for someone who has drowned. Follow these guidelines: CHECK (are they breathing?) CALL (Call 112 for help) COMPRESS (push hard and fast in the centre of the chest).

UCT Summer School – Child Abuse and Maltreatment 16 January 2024

To further enhance awareness and education about child abuse prevention, the University of Cape Town is conducting a Summer School Course in January. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend and participate.

As the Festive Season approaches, let us all unite in safeguarding the well-being of our children. Remember, even during celebrations, it is vital to supervise and protect children from harm.

Important Numbers:

Police / Fire Emergency: 10111

Medical Emergency: 10177

Emergency from Cell phone: 112

Poisons Helpline: 0861 555 777

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Zaitoon Rabaney, Executive Director, ChildSafe South Africa, 021 685 5208 OR 021 685 0114,

Prof Sebastian Van As, Course Convenor, University of Cape Town Centre for Extramural Studies, 021 650 2634, and


ChildSafe South Africa is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to Health Promotion and the Prevention of Injury in Children With a focus on advocacy, education, and Research. ChildSafe works towards creating a safer environment for children in various settings, including homes, schools, and communities. For more information, visit


A 4-day course on the Socio-Historical aspects of Child Abuse at the UCT Summer School from 16-19 January 2023 presented by Prof. Sebastian Van As. The course, CHILD ABUSE: AN INTRODUCTORY CONTEXTUAL PERSPECTIVE is open to the general public and all individuals who are interested in the prevention of child abuse and maltreatment. Secure your booking online via WebTickets at 16 January 2024 (

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