Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Av 5761 - July 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Ounces of Safety
adapted from an article by Rachel Gil

The Nine Days are accident prone. Children are accident prone. Homes are accident prone, that is, the scene for many accidents that could have been avoided. All parents have experienced the situation of a `near accident' of varying degree. They heave a sigh of relief when it is behind them and intone, "Shomer pesoim Hashem -- Hashem keeps a vigil over the innocent."

And yet, accidents do happen and the experts keep on reminding us that they could have been avoided. The public is not aware or alert enough. We must accelerate general awareness.

Part I

Dreadful, shocking accidents have happened to children recently. A baby fell from a third floor window. A one-year- old broke her collarbone after squirming herself free from a stroller where she had been sleeping. A two- year-old had a hand mangled, requiring amputation to the wrist, after inserting it into an electric mixer. A three-and-a-half year old drowned in the bathtub.

Statistic-wise, the rate of accidents involving children is relatively high in Eretz Yisroel compared to other countries. Most accidents involving small children take place in the house and around it and are the prime cause for child handicaps and mortality, says Michal Klein from "Beterem," the National Center for Child Safety.

According to a study made by the organization, the chances are that every second child in Israel can expect to be involved in an accident, especially one involving falling, drowning or swallowing a foreign object. But people tend to be complacent and think, "Oh, it won't happen to me," and ignore basic safety measures.

A fraction of a second -- but how many things can happen in this short but critical span. If we are on the spot, on vigil, much suffering can be avoided.

A fraction of a second was all it took for the baby above to lose a hand out of curiosity. His mother left the kitchen for a moment, and left the mixer running. Noisy, whirling, fascinating. And the three year old from Netivot who was playing innocently in the bathtub with her twin. The mother goes to answer the door -- and comes back to find the child floating, unconscious. Or the baby left sleeping in the stroller -- carefully strapped in! The conscientious mother checks on the child and then leaves the room. The baby wakes up and manages to wriggle out of the carriage and fall out, breaking her collarbone. Or the child in the playpen who pulls himself up to the window sill and falls out to his death -- while a sister is playing in the same room.

Just a fraction of a second. Stories that are fresh from the past weeks. Yitzchak Kadmon, director of the Council for Child Welfare, can't understand the Israeli mentality of "It only happens in the papers." He recently discovered a child left in a closed car at peak summertime heat, and quickly summoned the police. He cannot forget the serene reaction of the mother, "I ran to the bank for a few minutes. What's so terrible about that?" She certainly read or heard about the recent tragedies of children left in cars and dehydrating to death. But these do not relate to her personally.

900,000 children are injured every year! reports Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, working out of Schneider's Children Hospital. Most of the accidents take place in the home and in about 200, the children pay with their lives.

At the age of one-two, children are helpless. Their balance and coordination is just developing and they are vulnerable to falls, injuries from blunt objects, swallowing foreign objects, burns, poisoning, home- drowning. Road accidents figure negligibly in these statistics at 1,400.

The statistics are on the rise. If in 1999 some 170,000 children reached the emergency wards, now it is up to 176,000. In the chareidi sector, there is a high percentage of emergencies showing up on motzaei Shabbos, with children approaching the `tower of pots' on the Shabbos electric plate or gas range and the resulting burns and scaldings, accidents that could have been avoided with some basic precautions.

Every new (and old) electrical appliance in the house needs to be studied for safety measures. Electric kettle wires should not dangle over the counters for children to pull and so on.

[To be continued... as a public service]


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