Safety tips to use during the holidays

The holidays are traditionally a time of fun, sun… and alcohol-fuelled tragedy.

It’s a time of year, say police and emergency services, when holidaymakers letting down their guard to relax make themselves vulnerable to accidents and crime.

By the time last year’s “festive season” had run its course, 1 714 people had been killed on the country’s roads – a 5% increase on the year before, according to the Department of Transport. Almost two thirds of the more than 9 000 arrests for traffic violations were for drunken driving.

If ever there’s a time to be extra vigilant about your safety, it’s now. So, here are some basic precautions, SAPS and ER24 have issued to help you and
your family have fun safely these holi-
days.

Water safety

* Take special care at isolated dams, rivers and pools, especially after heavy rainfall. Even a small inflatable pool or bucket of water is a potential danger for toddlers.

* Respect the power of the sea. Even experienced swimmers can drown.

* Before entering the ocean, watch the waves and avoid places where there is a strong backwash, obvious rip currents or a danger of being washed onto the rocks. Only enter the water where the waves are straight and gentle.

* Only swim in designated areas, supervised by lifeguards. Obey the lifeguards’ immediately.

* Never swim when intoxicated. An intoxicated swimmer will tire more easily.

* Do not swim in dirty water, very early in the morning or early evenings after it has rained – shark activity increases under these circumstances.

* Never swim alone or over-estimate your swimming abilities.

* Never leave a young child unattended near water and never make a child responsible for another child, even for five minutes.

Home:

* Keep all doors locked.

* Do not leave a spare key hidden outside the home.

* Ensure that animals are fed while you are away.

* Ask a friend or colleague to check your residence periodically during your absence.

* Lock all your valuables -especially firearms – in an SABS-approved safe.

* Know your neighbours, so you can look out for each other.

* Know your family’s movements, especially children’s.

* Do not drive away from your home before your gate has closed.

* Let a family member wait for you in the driveway if you come home late and ensure your driveway is well lit.

* Do not get out of your vehicle before the gate has closed behind you.

* If your gate won’t open with the remote, do not get out. Call a person in the house for assistance or drive away and ask the police to assist you.

* Teach young children never to allow strangers into the home.

* Never give the impression you are home alone.

* Never advertise your absence on social media.

Vehicle safety:

* Keep your windows closed, or only a few millimetres open.

* Leave enough manoeuvring space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

* If you are being followed or harassed by another vehicle, drive to the nearest police station, petrol station or any other busy public space. Park as close as you can to the building and go inside, phone the police from there or let the cashier/attendant call for help.

* Never pick up hitch-hikers.

* At night, park your vehicle in a well-lit area, where there are a lot of peo-
ple.

* Always lock valuables, handbags and other parcels in the boot to prevent smash and grab crimes.

* Never lock valuables in your boot in the shopping mall parking lot: criminals may be watching. Rather lock all valuables in the boot before you leave your home.

* Before getting into your vehicle, check no one is already inside it.

* Check your car doors manually after locking them with a remote.

* Be familiar with alternative routes.

* Be vigilant at stop streets, traffic lights and intersections.

* If you’re in fender bender where there are no injuries and you feel unsafe, drive to the nearest police station immediately or a public area and report the accident to the police from there.

* Be extra vigilant in underground parking areas.

* Have your car key in your hand before leaving any shopping mall or other place.

* If you encounter engine problems, raise the bonnet and stay inside the car. If strangers approach you, let them call for help. Do not leave the safety of your vehicle.

* Never drink and drive. SAPS and metro services have a zero tolerance for drinking and driving.

* Do not use your cellphone while driving, except if you have a hands-free kit.

* Never text and drive.

* Do not leave children or animals unattended in a car.