My first child is about to go into kindergarten. Registration for preschools in Israel has now begun. I am very careful about safety and would like advice on how to assess kindergartens to make sure the one I choose for my daughter is safe. I.M., Givatayim, Israel
Orly Silbinger, director of Beterem, the Israel Center for Child Safety and Health, answers
We have issued new guidelines for choosing a kindergarten that is safe for children. Every year, young children in preschool are injured, and there are even deaths. Parents must not compromise on safety procedures both in the structure of the kindergarten and in the behavior of the staff members who work there.
First, make sure that the entrance gate to the preschool is permanently closed, with an automatic locking mechanism to prevent the possibility of children leaving the kindergarten without supervision. If there are internal stairs, make sure that there are gates with automatic closing at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Look at the doors to make sure they have an anti-slam accessory to prevent damage to children’s fingers. The windows must be barred or have other means that restrict the opening of the windows, which should not have long curtains that might become wrapped around the children.
As for kindergarten furniture, it is forbidden to place furniture – such as a bed, table, chair or chest of drawers — under the windows that can be climbed. All large furniture (chests, cabinets and shelves) must be affixed to the wall to prevent them from falling on children.
Unused electrical outlets must be covered. There should be no exposed wires or loose sockets.
The kitchen where food is prepared must be separated from the children’s activity area by having a gate or door. Children should be kept away from hot pots, kettles, the stove and hot drinks. All cleaning materials and insecticides must be in a locked closet out of the reach of children.
All hot-water taps must be connected to a device that limits temperature to a maximum of 45 degrees Celsius to prevent children from being burned.
Games and toys in preschools must be suitable for the youngest child. If there are several age groups in one place, small parts that could be swallowed by young children should not be accessible to the older group because they may find their way into the younger group. Look to see if there are broken parts left on the floor or among the toys.
Check the playground of the kindergarten to make sure they are stable and no broken. The place where children play and climb should be shaded.
You might feel embarrassed by checking on these things before deciding on a preschool, but it doesn’t take long, and it is your right to protect your child. Youngsters spend a great deal of time in such facilities, so parents must not compromise on safety procedures both in the structure of the kindergarten and in the behavior of the staff.
Falls, burns, suffocation, and poisoning are tangible dangers for toddlers and young children, and it is our duty as adults to look after them and keep them safe. Every parent who sends his child in the morning to kindergarten believes that at the end of the day, he or she will pick the child up from there safe and sound. It is our responsibility to ensure that this is indeed the case, by adhering to the safety rules.
I am a 24-year-old man who lives in cold Norway and work many hours outdoors, even in winter. I drink some type of alcohol twice a day to help keep warm. Unfortunately, I feel dependent on it. My doctor suggested that I give up alcohol for a month to get control of my drinking. Is this recommended? A. P. Bergen, Norway
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich comments:
New research from the University of Sussex in England shows that taking part in “Dry January” – abstaining from alcohol for a month – helps people regaining control of their drinking. They will also have more energy and better skin and lose weight. They also report that months later, when they return to alcohol, they drink less.
The research, led by Sussex psychologist Dr Richard de Visser, was conducted with over 800 people who took part in “Dry January” in 2018. The results showed that participants are still drinking less in August. They reported that drinking days fell on average from 4.3 to 3.3 per week; the units consumed per drinking day dropped on average from 8.6 to 7.1; and the frequency of being drunk dropped from 3.4 per month to 2.1 per month on average.
“The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term,” wrote de Visser. “Interestingly, the changes in alcohol consumption have also been seen in the participants who didn’t manage to stay alcohol-free for the whole month, although they are a bit smaller. This shows that there are real benefits to just trying to complete Dry January.”
The research showed that 93% of participants had a sense of achievement; 88% saved money; 82% think more deeply about their relationship with drink; 80% feel more in control of their drinking; 76% learned more about when and why they drink;71% realized they don’t need a drink to enjoy themselves; 70% had generally improved health; 71% slept better; 67% had more energy; 58% lost weight; 57% had better concentration; and 54% had better skin.
Dr Richard Piper, CEO of Alcohol Change UK, added: “Put simply, ‘Dry January’ can change lives. We hear every day from people who took charge of their drinking using ‘Dry January’ and who feel healthier and happier as a result. The brilliant thing about ‘Dry January’ is that it’s not really about January. Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us that we don’t need alcohol to have fun, to relax, to socialize. That means that for the rest of the year we are better able to make decisions about our drinking, and to avoid slipping into drinking more than we really want to. Many of us know about the health risks of alcohol – seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems – but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too.”
There is a smartphone application called Try Dry: The Dry January App to track your units, money and calories saved, plus many more features. Or you can sign up at dryjanuary.org.uk for regular support emails with tips and tricks from experts and others who have been through it.
If you want an Israeli expert to answer your medical questions, write to Breaking Israel News health and science senior reporter Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at firstname.lastname@example.org with your initials, age, gender and place of residence and details of the medical condition, if any.