With school officially out, crime, kidnappings, accidents and abuse against children are real possibilities, writes Somaya Stockenstroom
Safety at home
Many parents will be forced to leave their children at home this week while they wrap up work responsibilities. Make sure your home is safety proofed during this time and that children are left with a responsible and trustworthy caregiver.
Also, make sure that your children know your contact numbers and are able to access you should there be an emergency.
Swimming SA advises that home swimming pools be covered at all times and that an adult, who is able to swim, supervises when the kids nag them to take a dip.
It’s reported that most medical emergencies over the festive period involve drowning of children younger than 10.
Make sure younger kids are fitted with inflatable armbands if they are near a swimming pool.
Children should always be warned that kidnapping is real and can happen even when they are close to home, playing with friends.
Missing Children SA reports that a child goes missing every five hours, with 23% of those children never being found.
Others don’t make it home alive and are raped and killed.
It warned children against wandering off with strangers and even family members or friends who they don’t feel comfortable with. Parents need to be aware of their kids’ whereabouts at all times and have emergency numbers at hand. If you suspect your child has gone missing,
never wait 24 hours.
Report it immediately at the nearest police station.
Parents also tend to leave children with older siblings.
If this can’t be avoided, ask a trustworthy neighbour to check on them throughout the day. Teach them safety in handling electrical appliances and keep plug-in irons, primus stoves, matches and poisonous substances like cleaning detergents out of reach and sight.
Police have also warned to get rid of old electric appliances like broken-down fridges, which children hide in and often get trapped in, resulting in death.
Make sure emergency numbers are written down big and bold and where kids can access them.
The same safety measures apply when parents break and take their children for outings or long road holiday trips.
When it comes to travel, even if only for short distance, the Automobile Association advises that kids be securely fastened into a safety car seat fitted on the back seat, never in the front passenger seat.
Parents should also buckle up and ask the older kids seated in the back to buckle up as well.
During this time, malls are full and unsafe. Do not leave children alone in the car – especially with the windows up – even if you’re making a “quick” stop.
A car heats up in seconds and little ones can die from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
If in a public space, don’t let the children wander off on their own.
How to keep the kids entertained this festive season
Who says Joburg is dry because it has no beach? If you are staying in the city this year, it has loads more on offer than previous years.
Light up your festive
The Joburg Zoo comes alive at night with a Festival of Lights.
In partnership with Joburg Theatre and City Power, the lit-up forest can be accessed until January 5 between 6pm and 10pm.
“Visitors will be able to experience the nocturnal sounds of the zoo, stroll through the food and crafts market, picnic under the Joburg skies and be captivated by theanimal-themed lighting and lit-up tree-lined pathways – all set to ring in the holidays,” says councillor Nonhlanhla
An added bonus is dance performances, including The Nutcracker b y t he Joburg Junior Ballet Company. Festive rhythm will also take
centre stage, with the globally renowned Sibusile Xaba, Afzal Ismail, Pops Mohamed, Siphiwe Shiburi and Emmanuel Paul bringing their brands of jazz, a cappella and R&B to the event.
Patrons are invited to book early online on Ticketweb to enjoy the month-long festivities.
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens has brought in 100 imported Christmas lights for its Wonderland Of Lights. There are 13 themed stages lighting up the gardens.
There’s also a 3m Gingerbread Man, an army of nutcracker soldiers, Santa’s reindeer and a larger-than-life Christmas Grinch.
It’s on until January 4 and tickets range from R40 to R200.
Two days before the Reconciliation Day celebrations, Emerald Resort and Casino in the Vaal will open its holiday programme to the public.
Activities kick off with a Carnival experience on Saturday in the piazza area with performances from a marimba band, giant puppets,
festive stilt walkers, marching band, traditional dancers, carnival cultural dancers and the Father Christmas Triple Dancing Puppets entertaining the crowds.
“Due to many requests over the past few years, this year we have introduced a ‘season pass’,” says Tanuja Gangabishun, who is the marketing executive.
“This once-off cost allows access into Aquadome, puff-puff, wall climbing, three Animal World passes and three games of 10-pin bowling at
Silverstar Casino too has set up a beach experience where parents can enjoy sundowners while the kids frolic in the water. Open every day, except on Christmas Day, there is no need to pack up half the house and drive for hours for the family to enjoy the sun and sand.
This year, you can look forward to under-18 beach festivals and a New Year’s bash that will kick-start 2020 in style.
Fourways Mall has a large offering for children: a 10-lane bowling alley and a kids-only cinema. The cinema has a dedicated entertainment
area filled with colourful chairs and a giant tube slide in the theatre.
Pretoria also offers many water parks, Zambibush being a popular and affordable spot. Happy Island Waterworld lies between Muldersdrift and Joburg north. It’s SA’s biggest water park with a double wave pool and plenty of slides.