Summer camps Ask a parent / guardian how they came to their decision on choosing a particular summer camp and the standard response is: activity type, time and cost. Rarely do you hear parents mention safety and security at the summer camp as a key deciding factor.

Here are some of the questions as a guardian / parent you must ask yourself and the camp administrators when making your choice:

What is the safety awareness and capability of the staff involved?

Off from school children need to have fun during vacations; make sure that your child is safe when (s)he is out and about

— There should be someone with basic first aid capabilities and preferably a nurse.

Are the staff members regulars (have worked with the camp before) or new comers?

— Credibility and background of the staff should be clear.

Are activities all on the facility, if not how will the children be transported to and fro?

— It’s important to know when the child will go to an offsite facility.

— Know if they are being taken in bigger vehicles or in cars.

  • Your child may never have travelled in different types of transport and their curiosity could result in their being harmed accidently.

Does the camp have a robust system to deal with who collects the child from the campus?

— Make sure the camp only lets your child leave with the person you’ve authorised.

Are water-based activities involved? If so how many qualified safety instructors / attendants are available?

— Swimming accidents can occur even if floatation devices are used, therefore the children should be under supervision for the entire period they’re in the water.

What is the child-to-instructor ratio at the camp? Generally the fewer children per instructor there are, the better it is.

— The only predictable thing about children is that they are unpredictable, therefore supervision of all their activities is important.

— Also it is important to realise that the child may not be comfortable informing the attendants if they are feeling unwell or need to use the washrooms, it’s the attendants who need to pick up on the signs.

How experienced is the camp owner / administrator?

— It’s not uncommon for school teachers to arrange a camp in their homes; however, just because they belong to the teaching fraternity doesn’t automatically qualify them as good administrators.

— If the camp has existed for a period of time find out experiences of past attendees. In this day and age of social media information is easy to come; you can search online for information.

Experienced summer camp organisers will generally be able to satisfy you with their responses to the questions stated here. If they fail to provide satisfactory response or say they’ll implement the measures during the camp, then do follow up and ensure it happens. Remember, the ultimate responsibility for your child’s safety lies with you.

Firecracker safety

Whatever the occasion, religious or festive, firecrackers are increasingly used by children and adults alike. Safety, however, is generally an afterthought and is often too late for a victim.

Here are some of the safety considerations to keep in mind while using firecrackers:


— Have adult supervision of children around

— Light firecrackers outdoors, as they are potential fire hazards

— Light a single firecracker at a time

— Keep a bucket of water nearby

— Tie back long hair

— Wear some eye protection when handling firecrackers, especially when using hand-held ones

— Soak expended firecrackers in a bucket of water to cool them before disposing of them

— Dispose of a firecracker in a bin which does not contain any flammable materials if not previously properly doused with water.


— Hold a firecracker while lighting it

— Pick up failed firecrackers, they could still explode

— Relight a failed firecracker

— Bend directly over a firecracker when lighting it

— Wear loose clothing while handling or being around firecrackers

— Throw firecrackers at passing people, vehicles or in someone’s property

— Point firecrackers towards homes

If you do get harmed while using a firecracker here are some things you can do: 

In case of minor burns:

— Run cool (not cold) tap water over the affected area. Avoid mineral water that has additives in it.

— Do not apply ointments or creams 

— Don’t use toothpaste or other home remedies

— Cover the injured area loosely with a clean dry cloth or bandage.

In case of more severe burns / wounds immediately rush to the nearest medical facility.

Signs of severe burns are (but not limited to):

— The burn area is larger than the size of the palm of an adult

— The burn extends beyond the surface of the skin

— Eyes are involved

In case of injuries from the explosion of the firecracker:

— Cover the affected portion with a clean cloth

— Try to stop any bleeding that may occur by applying pressure on it

— Immediately take the victim to the hospital

Remember to always ask the victim:

— Where they feel pain, if at all?

— Can they hear properly?

— Can they move their limbs?

Answers in the negative are general indication of internal injuries and trauma that need immediate and specialised care. It is also important to ensure that while transporting the victim to the hospital every care is taken to not cause further injury.

Summer heat and children

When children are going out in hot weather, during the day, remind the children to:

— Keep cool and hydrated by drinking plenty of water

— Cover the head and nape of the neck when out in the sun

— Use sun-block and take more breaks in the shade during extended outdoor activities.

Norbert Almeida is a safety & security advisor.


Twitter: @norbalm

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, May 31st, 2015

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