Child Safety: Tragedy and Responsibility, By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju

When I read about the drowning of D’Banj’s son, I was very sad. The loss of a child is every parent’s nightmare. I sympathize with D’Banj but I disagree with those who felt people should not ask questions. We ought to ask, especially when someone had warbed him about the danger of having his young son walk by the poolside. For tragedies and mistakes not to recur, we must learn from them. One of the first things I learnt when I landed in America is America’s love for “Lessons Learned”. When things go wrong in their personal, corporate and public lives, they ask questions, they investigate and try look for answers. Every mistake, every tragedy, every death, must be investigated. When cars suddenly shift from park to drive or reverse, causing a death or injury, no one calls it an act of God or blame village witches. The car manufacturer pay damages, find the fault and issue a recall for that model. Everyone who bought that car, gets a letter. The car is fixed at every local dealership, free. Improvements like that along the line, thorough safety tests as well as innovation got us the beautiful cars we are all riding today. Batch numbers are issued for every product so they can easily be withdrawn if something bad happens. Fruits, meat, even clothing have been recalled. Same thought is applied to child safety. Every summer, some parents leave their children in locked cars, in the sweltering heat. Many children have died in the process and their parents have been prosecuted.

If you have young children at home, childproof your home. Block all electrical outlets. Remove any piece of furniture that can tilt over. Get rid of plastic bags (you call it nylon bags) to prevent them from pulling it over their heads causing suffocation. If you must keep them, tie them up individually in knots and keep it away from where children can reach it. Many household cleaning products except Harpic are not childproof in Nigeria, keep bleach, detergents and other products in the laundry and locked away in a cabinet. Install a detachable gate at both ends of your stairway. Have a fire extinguisher installed on your stairwell or somewhere central in your home. In case of fire, you can at least fight your way to safety. Have smoke alarms installed and change the batteries even six months. Switch of every electrical outlet when you are not at home except your refrigerator and freezer. Up till today, my homes in Nigeria and America is characteristically bare. There is nothing that can harm a child even if the child is left unattended for an hour. Olufunmilayo Odunaike and Kyke Davies have the same uncluttered bare necessity homes. Many children have died from what is called sudden infant death syndrome. Americans investigated this thoroughly and the issue advisory to new parents on how to avoid it. They did not do it by placing the holy Bible beneath the child’s pillow.

If you must have a pool in your backyard, fit any door leading to the pool with an alarm. I insist we must copy processes when we copy ideas. Oyinbo people whose ideas we copy have safeguards. None of them will leave their pool unmonitored. Children have been known to drown in ankle deep waters. Children are inquisitive, they explore their environment. It is how they learn. When they explore, accidents can happen but we must know they are accidents. If negligence is involved, we must investigate, acknowledge it and learn from it. We should stop looking at issues on the periphery. What if someone knowingly drowned the child? What if the child was killed and his death was made to look like drowning? Yes, it is their child, but that child is a citizen whose life and death should count in the eyes of the law.

I admit I am a worrywart and a helicopter parent, I believe the best mistake is the one never made. As a parent, do your best, take precautions, when bad happens, you can be guilt free and be consoled that you did your best possible. May D’Banj and his wife find the strength a time like this, demand.

Facebook page: Bamidele Ademola-Olateju

News Reporter