Health and Safety tips for Father’s Day
Dads often have their work cut out for them.
Between what is likely to be a busy working life and raising children it can often feel like the odds are stacked against you, achieving a balancing act as a provider and engaging parent. All in all, a day in the year dedicated to appreciation seems like a comparatively small ask!
Besides being a pleasant chance for appreciation and a family gathering though, Father’s Day 2017 is a good opportunity to reassess what’s really important. Paternal life can be rewarding but as outlined it can also be challenging or even exhausting on occasion.
In the process of attempting to be the dad your children deserve and preserve their wellbeing it can be easy to lose sight of your own. Often one of the hardest lessons to learn about parenthood is to learn that care needs to go both ways.
To mark the day this year and offer a helping hand to dads everywhere, SHEilds have gathered some top Health and Safety tips for fathers and their children everywhere.
Providing the weather holds up (a questionable proposition as I’m writing from the UK) a family barbecue is a fine way to celebrate Father’s Day and a new BBQ set may well be on the agenda. If this is the case remember to adhere to basic barbecue safety at all times and keep things fun rather than frantic.
First and foremost, it’s vital ensure the barbecue itself is positioned correctly and in safe working order. It should be setup on a firm, flat surface and be clear of sheds, trees and any other flammable objects by at least 10 feet.
When using the barbecue, it’s important never to leave it unattended by a responsible adult, while young children should be kept clear altogether to reduce the chances of a mishap; if there’s excitable behaviour, games or running around going on close by the dangers increase exponentially. Before setting up it’s worth explaining the dangers clearly to them and emphasising the reasons for staying clear of the BBQ.
If you’re using a charcoal barbecue be sure not to overload it; there should be just enough charcoal used to cover its base with a depth of about 5cm. When it comes to lighting it stick to safety approved fire lighters and fuels specifically intended for this purpose. You should NEVER be tempted to “top up” with petrol or any other flammable liquids to hand as the results are likely to be unpredictable and volatile.
Once you are done using a charcoal barbecue ensure the ashes are completely cool before disposing of them, many fires are inadvertently sparked by hot ashes carelessly placed in bins. To be 100% safe give them a full day to completely cool down.
Gas barbecues require careful operation as well. It’s important to ensure taps are firmly turned off before changing gas cylinders to prevent leaks and should be changed outdoors or in well ventilated spaces. Furthermore, when you finish the barbecue, gas should be turned off at the cylinder FIRST before it is shut off at BBQ controls to ensure any gas left in the pipes is cleared.
If you are worried a gas leak has occurred anywhere on your apparatus a good test is to wipe soapy water across pipes and joints and keep an eye out for any telltale bubbling.
A Family Day Out
The other likely possibility for Father’s Day is of course taking a family day out. To keep your excursion safe and healthy (and indeed all days out) it’s always worth remembering a few basic precautions to be prepared for the best and worst cases.
Weather is the usual suspect when it comes to unpredictable circumstances and being adaptable goes a long way.
If things work out and sun stays firmly in the sky make sure you and your children don’t get too much of a good thing. Heat exhaustion lands lots of people in hospital, and sunburn can be severely unpleasant not to mention potentially dangerous in the worst cases.
Even if it’s an area you don’t normally associate with excessive sun exposure such as a town or village, bringing along water to stay hydrated is a good move. Applying moderate suntan lotion/sun screen on everyone before disembarking is also wise along with a spare bottle, particularly if swimming is on the agenda.
Clothing can be an effective way to prevent unpleasantries such as heatstroke too; loose clothes in light colours combined with sun hats, caps and sun glasses could end up saving someone a nasty bout of headaches and nausea.
Things could go the other way of course, being prepared for rain with waterproofs and a few fold-up umbrellas never hurts.
However, if a thunder storm breaks, short of staying home it’s vital to remain wary of the space you’re in and what you’re doing. If your taking shelter, steer clear of isolated trees, lakes and ponds. Furthermore, any activities involving wide open spaces (e.g. football) or metal objects (e.g. baseball, golfing) should be put on hold immediately.
On the bright side, we live in an era where checking the weather is often only a swipe away on our phones. Seeing what you’re in for in advance could ultimately save you a lot of embarrassment!
Dads and their DIY projects may be something of a stereotype but it’s not a baseless one! Many fathers are likely to receive tools this Father’s Day and a home improvement project may well be on the agenda. As such DIY Safety around kids is definitely worth a mention.
If you have received tools, powered equipment or building materials as a present or are about to use them it’s worth keeping in mind the forbidden appeal these can hold for younger children.
While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery if a child tries to copy your DIY activities the results could be catastrophic. According to ROSPA, in the UK more than 2 million children under 15 years old suffer accidents in or around the home; 76,000 younger than 14 require treatment as a result of which 40% are under 5’s.*
As these alarming statistics illustrate, younger children are especially susceptible to home dangers and this goes doubly where tools are involved. It may seem obvious to keep tools out of reach but a moments complacency is an easy and potential serious mistake to slip into.
As with barbecues it’s a good idea to take a moment before you begin working to warn children at home and clearly explain the dangers, ensuring they do not play near trailing cables, large loads or sharp edges. Even if you’re only taking a short break from a task try to leave everything in a safe state, unplugging power tools, shutting sharp objects in your toolbox and being certain nothing is left in a precarious state.
When not in use tools should be firmly locked up or kept somewhere inaccessible. Placing them on a raised surface out of reach might seem like a good idea, but could actually create an additional danger since a child could pull them down on top of themselves.
Out of sight and firmly secured is extra effort worth taking. Dangerous tools need to be locked up and toxic substances should ideally be kept in clearly labelled containers with childproof lids.
Create a Buffer
Looping back to my opening point about wellbeing it seems fitting to end on a general note regarding fatigue and rest.
Parenting is wonderful, but it is also frustrating and potentially draining. It’s important to realize that while childcare matters, your health does too and failing to care for it could ultimately impact everyone in your family.
Setting yourself a small amount of “me time” on a regular basis (not just on Father’s Day) is a good way to create a buffer between work and childcare to recharge. It might be a half hour walk or watching a TV show, either way including some down time as a part of a regular weekly or daily schedule is likely to benefit everyone.
With all that said, SHEilds offers its best wishes to Fathers everywhere!