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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Experts call on parents to be vigilant this holiday season

While most parents are increasingly aware of the dangers associated with swimming pools and beaches, experts at Sydney Children's Hospital (SCH), Randwick are calling on parents to put safety first when holidaying at more rural destinations such as farms and campsites.

Dr Matthew O' Meara, Head of the Emergency Department (ED) at SCH says children and adolescents present to the ED with injuries ranging from minor to life threatening, as a result of farm or campsite related accidents.

'Accidents will happen anywhere, however many parents remain unaware of some of the serious injuries that can occur in rural areas' Dr O'Meara said.

'While places such as farms have large open spaces and may appear safe enough, wire fences, tractors, ditches, snakes, spiders and farm activities like horse riding, motor bike and quad bike riding can leave children with serious injuries.'

'Some children are lucky to escape with minor lacerations while others can require major surgery and extended periods in hospital,' he said.

With the holiday season very imminent, Dr O'Meara calls on parents, carers and children to enjoy the holiday season safely.

'The last thing anyone wants is to spend the summer holidays in hospital.

Enjoy the season, spend time with family and friends, but be aware of your surroundings and don't leave safety at home,' Dr O'Meara said.

Sydney Children's Hospital attends to more than 5,000 children every summer holiday, with more than 100 patients presenting to the Hospital's ED last Christmas Day.

Should you be planning a trip to a rural destination, Dr O'Meara advises parents and carers to:

- Balance the fun and freedom of holidays with some consideration of the risks.
- Prevent injuries with adequate supervision and educate children on how to play safely.
- Dams, creeks and waterholes are as risky as pools and beaches limit their access to and supervise children around water.
- Teach children how to ride motorbikes and quad bikes, get a bike the right size and ensure children wear helmets at all times.
- Only allow children to ride horses with the right temperament, supervise and educate children on horse riding and ensure they wear helmets.
- Do not allow children to ride on tractors or in the back of Utes.
- Teach children about the dangers around camping sites such as, hot ashes from camp fires, snakes and spiders.
- Have a first aid kit available and contact details of the local emergency services.

For Further Information Contact:

Media enquiries: Jessica Jaramillo (02) 9382 3578 or 0404 001 722

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