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Vigilance is key to safety of children, UAE experts say

FUJAIRAH // The deaths of three youngsters in accidents at their homes in Fujairah in the past two months has prompted experts to remind parents to be extra vigilant when it comes to keeping their children safe.

On December 14, four-year-old Manal Al Sarsi was seriously injured after falling from a window at her family’s third-floor apartment in Merbeh. The Egyptian child died in hospital a few hours later. Three days later, seven-year-old Nof Al Bloushi was killed when an iron gate fell on her at her home in Al Faseel. The Emirati girl died as her parents took her to hospital.

Last month, a two-year-old Emirati girl drowned in a swimming pool at her home in Al Bithnah after being left unattended.

“Parents should always anticipate the worst and act accordingly,” said Dr Reem Al Ameria, a child safety expert.

Precautions parents can take include moving furniture away from windows and balconies and covering sharp objects.

“I can’t say that we can stop accidents from happening, but we can have the awareness to keep the surrounding area safe,” Dr Al Ameria said. “Raising awareness of preventable incidents that claim the lives of many children is very important.”

Police also reminded parents that their children’s safety was their responsibility.

“We don’t have high numbers of deaths but even a case or two should be enough to highlight the importance of keeping children safe – it’s the duty and responsibility of parents,” said Maj Saeed Al Hassani, a spokesman for Fujairah Police.

“Constant observation and supervision is required to prevent accidents. Children should always be accompanied by adults, and regular maintenance of households items that may harm the children is also important.”

Each month, staff at the accident and emergency department unit at Al Sharq Hospital treat between 50 and 75 children under the age of six who have been injured at home.

“We see lots of cases with household injures,” said Dr Pratap B, head of the department. “It is a major concern because the injured come to hospital, get treated, but there is nothing done to prevent them from happening again.”

The most common injuries involve children falling from heights, especially toddlers who fall out of their beds, which can cause serious head trauma.

“It’s also common to receive three and four-year-olds who have inserted foreign objects in their ears or nose or swallowed them,” Dr Pratap said.

“Accident prevention programmes should be implemented in schools for parents to be aware of the things that could harm their children – pointed edges, electrical devices and heavy household goods could cause severe injuries and may lead to death,” he said.

Afnan Salem, a mother of three, said while minor mishaps were unavoidable, parents could stop more serious accidents from happening.

“Parents should learn from the mistakes of others and try as much as they can to keep their children safe,” said Ms Salem, 36, who is from Syria. “It requires a lot of work but in the end it’s for their own safety and well-being.”

The Sharjah Children Protection Centre provides consultation and support to families. Its 24-hour hotline is on 800 700.

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The National