In one of the WhatsApp groups for residents in Kabalagala Police Division, a member recently shared a story of how her close friend and neighbour had lost a two-year-old baby to snake bites. She said her neighbour’s child started crying at 1am and the mother breastfed him thinking he was probably hungry since she had not had enough time to breastfeed during the day.
The baby continued crying and, his temperature abruptly shot up in addition to swelling of the shoulder. The parents rushed their child to a nearby clinic but the power had gone off. The doctor could not help but advise them to rush him to either Mukwaya General Hospital or Nsambya Hospital. Before they could reach the hospital, the baby abruptly went silent. On checking him, he had stopped breathing. The couple needed a medical opinion to confirm if their child had died. They branched off to another clinic and indeed, the doctor confirmed so.
Searching the cause
The doctor drew some blood and saliva samples after the parents narrated how their child had died mysteriously. The parents took the remains for burial but they were left contemplating the cause of death. After returning from burial, the couple went for a postmortem report. The doctor informed them it was snake poison. They wondered how that was possible yet their house was in a perimeter wall, well-lit, cemented and tidy.
Nevertheless, they went and searched their house. To their surprise, a snake was in a store opposite the baby’s bedroom.
The store was filled with a collection of leftover material for construction probably reserved for future use. According to the storyteller, the couple had spent over a year without checking the store. The question is, how can one ensure child safety at home?
Check suspicious spaces
Muzamiru Ssekandi, a builder, says stores harbour deadly reptiles such as snakes and lizards because they offer a conducive environment and they are rarely checked by some home owners. “After construction, people dump everything they think will be needed for future use in stores. These items pick dust and sometimes they are moist and this gives a chance to reptiles to hide,” Ssekandi says. Evas Ainomugisha, police spokesperson for health directorate, says parents should always check their children’s bedroom to ensure they are always safe.
She adds that much as your home could be in a perimeter wall, reptiles have capabilities of squeezing through small spaces which you might not see with your naked eye and they could hide under the bed. “Even if you are an adult, you should not go to bed minus checking under your bed, tables, behind cupboards and you should always check your ceilings. Many deadly reptiles hide in such spots and only become active at night,” Ainomugisha says.
Whether you find your house intact, Ainomugisha insists that it should be a routine to check your house corners before you enter bed. “You may focus on the door yet the reptile passed through the ventilators. Even if you have a maid, it is your responsibility as family head to ensure safety for your family members every night,” she advises.
Make children’s rooms priority
Berna Nakku, family and child counsellor, says children’s bedrooms should always be the first place to visit before you switch off your lights. This, she says would help you to know whether the children are physically safe and free from danger.
Whether you return home late and exhausted, Nakku asserts that you should check on your children even when you find them asleep. “You should not have any excuse for not checking their condition and their bedrooms. I know some parents return home when the children are already asleep but you should check their bedroom, their physical and health state. Ask them if they have any complaints. Do not rely on the maid or relative for explanations,” Nakku adds.
Declutter and clean up
Ainomugisha advises that the children’s bedroom should not be congested and should always have enough lighting since children’s conditions change abruptly. Besides, ensure that their bedrooms are often cleaned and sprayed so that you give no chance for dangerous creatures such as reptiles or insects that sting to harbour under beds.
Ssekandi advises that whether your store is near the house or not, it should always be checked, and items removed for cleaning. “I used to have a store near my house but it had become a home for reptiles and nocturnals. I managed them by spraying and checking the store regularly.
My home was near a stream and mosquitoes could breed there. I chose to spray it regularly,” Ssekandi recalls. I’m less afraid of such dangerous animals.