Listeria hysteria- Listeriosis

Listeria hysteria- Listeriosis 2
The listeriosis germ

Listeria hysteria, is it valid? Listeria or Listeriosis whatever you call it has been around for years.

Is the hysteria over the listeria outbreak warranted? In my opinion it is too little too late. The outbreak was bound to happen, and here’s why.

Food safety in South Africa

South Africa does not have a central authority or organisation to oversee food safety and hygiene. We have the Health Department who are blaming the food companies and then we have the ‘Food Safety Network’, this is the objective on their website.

Objective: The Directorate: Food Control ensures an optimal non-personal preventative primary health care service in respect of the safety of food for the South African community based on basic needs and the right to make informed choices without being misled by means of scientifically founded legislation, auditing and information actions.

We also have the Labour Department involved and the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry and sundry other departments involved in the import and export as well as the control of local food producers involved in all of this.

Listeria- South Africa wins the title!

Yet South Africa still managed to have the worst outbreak of Listeria in the world.

Foods to avoid
These are the most common meat products to find listeria in at present.

During my research I discovered that most of the legislation governing food control was last updated in the 1980’s!  See the following links

In an interview I found with Dr Lise Korsten, she mentions that most of the large companies are self-regulated.

Why did it take us 14 months to determine where the outbreak originated and besides closing the two factories where it was found, what is our government doing about it?


I know that there is private litigation happening, but what else? I missed the product recall 4th March 2018, possibly because I don’t use Enterprise or Rainbow chicken products. Products are still being recalled.

Dr Korsten said in her interview on, that a food safety outbreak was imminent and had been expected by the scientific community???

She also stated that over the last 10 years suggestions have been made but no headway was achieved.

We are not the only country to have outbreaks of Listeriosis.  We are, unfortunately, the title holder for the largest outbreak in the world, with nearly 1000 cases having been reported since Jan 2017!

At risk

Pregnant women are the most vulnerable.

  • It is found in raw or unpasteurised milk, or dairy products that contain unpasteurised milk,
  • Soft cheeses like feta, goat cheese and brie,
  • Foods from delicatessen counters like prepared salads and cold meats that have not been heated and reheated adequately,
  • Refrigerated pâtés
listeria facts
Things you need to know

Attention Dr Motsoaledi

Dr Motsoaledi, you admitted that the government had failed in its environmental inspection responsibilities, so what are you doing about it now?

I beg you, with all the good you are doing to promote healthy lifestyles in this beautiful country by encouraging exercise and pre-natal visits, vaccinations etc., please take action now to prevent this happening again!

Set up a National body to properly govern the food industry. Look at our food safety laws. Speak to the scientists and those who know.

This outbreak cost us the lives of 78 babies and over 100 other people. Who knows what these deaths have cost the economy now and in the future. According to an interview with times live, Dr Motsoaledi expects further outbreaks. and Namibia is now being affected too!


10 reason to grocery shop online

Online shopping

Here are 10 reasons to grocery shop on line. In June 2015 I started this blog and in the first article I spoke about how much I saved with online shopping.  Nearly 2 years later, I can still say it is worth the hassle.

Yes it was a huge learning curve on how to do the online shopping and still get everything I ordered. I have learned the best days to order, what I can’t order and what I must specify as ‘no substitutions’. The first time was really painful!

1.     You can shop anytime

Our country is held hostage by the taxi drivers, staff at the end of the day are in a rush to get off work so they can catch the last taxi of the day. If you are late finishing work you don’t have to rush to make it before the store closes, because there is no closing time.

Shopping times
Online shopping is 24/7

2.     No rude staff

I have to laugh when I see the signs on the tills that remind staff to greet the customer with a smile. I have seen this very rarely. Customer service seems to be a vague concept that they are taught and then promptly forget. The staff is quite content to carry on their conversation about the evening before, what’s happening in their favourite soapy or how the new ‘protocol’ is unfair or the boss is rude. This is whether the client speaks their language or not.

3.     You can wear your pajamas

There is no dress code. Now I have seen people (mostly women) at the shops in their slippers, hair in curlers and once at my local store a lady in her nightie! I am not saying you must get dressed up and made up to go to the shops.  I know some would disagree, you never know who you might meet! At least in your own home you can happily do your shopping in your skivvies if you want, no one will judge you.

Image courtesy of CSN Media.

4.     Your stuff is safe!

Shopping from the comfort of your own home, means your wallet, cellphone and children are safe. There are no pick pockets or child snatchers around! No worries about keeping your handbag close or people distracting you so their sticky fingers can lift your property.  You don’t have to worry about someone jamming your locking signal and then making off with the contents of your car or even your car itself.

5.     Guilt free parking

Since you won’t need your car, you don’t need change for the ‘car guard’ to help you unpack your trolley or help you reverse out the parking that you got into quite easily on your own.  I don’t always have change as I use my card for most things and then I put that in my phone cover and leave my bag at home. I have a savings option on my card, where the total purchase is rounded up and the difference is put into a little savings account.  Sometimes when I do have some change with me it is only 50c or so and I feel guilty that with my huge shopping trolley all I can give is some tiny change. I did try once to give a guy a can of food and he handed it back to me with a disgusted look.

6.     You save money

One thing about online grocery shopping is that impulse buying is reduced to a minimum. You have your list and you search for those items only.  There are no checkout counters, so no sweets or chocolates to tempt you. You aren’t wandering up and down aisles and taking things off the shelf, because they caught your eye.

Another thing I learned to do is to open the profiles of the stores that offer online shopping and compare prices. You can shop at 3 stores at once (maybe soon other grocery stores will offer online shopping). You get to choose your products and make use of any specials that are offered.

7.     It’s environmentally friendly

When you shop online you have the option of saying no to plastic bags! This not only helps the environment, it helps your pocket too. The delivery arrives in plastic containers, which are then unpacked in your home, no having to worry about carrying heavy stuff or plastic bags breaking.

8.     You can shop in stages

One thing that I am sure has happened to you, I know it has happened to me more than once. In fact it happened just last week. You are in the store and shopping is taking longer than planned. Suddenly you realise the time and you have to be at a meeting or fetch the kids from school, an extra mural or a friend. This means you are either going to be late, not going to be able to complete your shopping or have to abandon your trolley all together and come back another day. You land up with your shopping

Shopping online means when you can come back all your groceries are still in your trolley where you parked it. You don’t have to start again; nothing is going to go off, because it sat in the car while you did lift schemes.

9.     You can take as long as you want

This goes a long with the last point. You can shop in stages. It can be days or weeks. You can add to your trolley anytime you want.  If you log on and add to your trolley as soon as something is finished in your cupboard, you will not leave anything off of your shopping list.

10.                        No children

Shopping with babies and small children can be difficult. Having to push your trolley and control an over tired toddler can cause any mom to have a meltdown. Shopping online means you avoid, cranky, tired children, your own children and other people’s children too. It also means that if it is nap time, you can stop shopping, put your child down for a nap and go back to shopping. There is no nagging for this toy or that sweet. This applies to children of all ages.

Shopping with children
Image from

For breast feeding mom’s it means you can feed in comfort while still doing the shopping. No one complaining about you feeding in public, no having to go feed your baby in the public bathrooms either or going to sit in your hot car for privacy and then having people look in your window.

Some smaller stores allow you to phone in your order and they deliver, this is usually the butcher and specialty stores and has the same benefits of online shopping.

Do you online shop and if not, I would love to hear why not?

Why you need a calendar?

Family Calendar

Organised Chaos Calendars

Creating a calendar for the family, helps avoid the clashing of schedules. I know in our house we often seem to go for ages with nothing and then 5 events on one day.

How many do you have?

If your school has 20 children in a class and you have 3 children that could potentially be 60 birthday parties! There are only 52 weeks in a year. This is bound to result in clashes. We haven’t even started with the adults yet.

Let’s cut down to a family with only two children, plus two parents who each have one sibling and two parents. The parents’ siblings also have two children this now takes family birthdays to 16 birthdays for family alone. Granted not everyone is going to have a party, but you still need to keep track of milestones. Things like anniversaries and major birthdays.

Extra Murals

Now add in extra murals, and possibly concerts or competitions that go with the extra murals. School sports days and exhibitions that need to be attended, work functions or training that you need to be at and you can begin to see the importance of a family calendar.

Remember you need to add in dentist, doctor and other appointments to the calendar as well and suddenly your calendar is full.

My family calendar not only has birthdays and anniversaries on it, it also includes Jewish holidays and the getting sorted plan, plus my meal planning blog ideas. School holidays add vacations need to be written on so that you don’t double bookings.

Colour Coding

To keep track I use different colours for different events. As all my children are teenagers, we have fewer parties but more social events. I use a write and wipe wall calendar and use a permanent marker for events that are not going to change. Birthdays, anniversaries, Jewish Holidays and school terms are all in permanent marker. I use a second colour for meal planning (blog ideas and clients planning), and for Getting Sorted, and another for parties and special events.

Family Calendar
The family calendar has all the important information on it.

One of the most important aspects of this calendar is to update it regularly. Put it in a place where everyone in the household can see it.


I also have emergency and important phone numbers in permanent marker on my calendar.

Are you on the Facebook group, why not join us if you haven’t yet?

Do you have a family calendar? I would love for you to share your ideas with us.

Car find cleanout

Car find cleanout 4

This week we tackle the car, this is a fairly tough task, for those mom’s with little kids.

keeping the car clean!

Car clean
We bring a little of the outside into our cars every day.

Every time you get into the car you bring the outside in with you! Then the kids eat or drink in the back of the car so, inevitably, there is spillage, whether it’s the yoghurt or the raisins, it still needs to be cleaned up. I have learnt to keep a plastic shopping bag in my car, with one handle tied around the gear shift to work as a dustbin.
Snotty tissues, plastic wrappers and that ‘take away’ coffee cup all go in there when they no longer serve their purpose. That way you will have slightly less to clean out. Depending on how much and what is in the bag, I either remove it weekly or monthly. If your left- over tuna bagel is in there, daily might be your option.

It’s in the bag

For the weekly stops at the store, I have a collection of plastic bags in the boot (trunk for the non-South Africans). That way I save money on bags, save the environment by recycling and have the emergency sick bag nearby.

The car seat

Car seats (those amazing things that save our children’s lives) remember, your child must be in a car seat till the age of 4 and a booster seat till the age of 10. No child should ever be in the front seat of the car until they reach a height of 1,2 m or 35kg. Sorry for the tangent, this is a topic I am quite dogmatic about. You can learn more at Back to my topic, the amazing car seat has all sorts of nooks and crannies into which little fingers can stuff so many goodies. It is important to clean your car seat regularly, especial around the harness buckles, as a sticky buckle can malfunction and endanger your little ones’ life.


The cubby a great hiding place for that slab of chocolate you don't want to share!
The cubby a great hiding place for that slab of chocolate you don’t want to share!

The cubby hole; what can I say? I won’t even begin to tell you the weird and wonderful finds discovered in this tiny little storage compartment of the car. The half-eaten sandwich and the now melted chocolate that was meant for after dinner, and that’s just me.

Trunk treasure

The boot/trunk, what a treasure trove we have there except possibly the one thing you actually need! Your boot must contain a red triangle (R500 fine if you don’t have one), a first aid kit, a tow rope, a lug wrench (that cross thingy to loosen the nuts, when you change the tire), a flat tire repair kit (don’t have that one though) and your plastic and fabric reusable shopping bags and, most importantly, a fully inflated spare tire.

Car safety kit, everyone should have one!
Car safety kit, everyone should have one!

During my last car clear out, I found about 30 tiny salt and pepper packets, a single sock and a towel which doesn’t match anything in my house.

Car activity organiser

One of the life savers in the car when the children were small, was the sorter in which we stored paper and coloured pencils, books and other bits to keep the natives quiet for all of 5 minutes, you hang them over the back of the front seats. Carefully empty those regularly as you never know what can be stored in there.
One friend, who shall remain nameless to protect her now adult children from mortification, could not work out why her car smelled so bad. The car sorter/activity centre had been put into the boot without being checked and during their road trip to the Cape, her husband had changed the dirty nappy (diaper to the rest of you) and stuck it in there and then forgot about it as the enjoyed their holiday.
What interesting finds have you uncovered cleaning out the car?

The law of consequence

The law of consequence 6
Join the campaign today
Join the campaign today

In May 2015 it became law that all children under the age of 4 must be restrained in an age appropriate car seat or booster seat. The consequences of not following the law could be devastating to your family.


The law of consequence 7
It only takes 52 seconds to change your life

I wrote about this last year as I am very passionate about this safety issue.

So this time I decided to write a no holds barred post, prompted by the ‘carseatfullstop’ campaign., started by Mandy-Lee Miller of

 It’s Law

It is the law and yet every day I drive past cars with children standing between the front seats, bouncing around on the back seat without seat belts, standing with their heads out of the sun roof or sitting on parent’s laps. Have you ever seen a decapitated body? Sadly I have.

It is law that children be in age appropriate car seats
It is law that children be in age appropriate car seats

Are you negligent?

For those of us privileged to have our own transport, this should be a no brainer! If you don’t put your children in the correct size car seat, age appropriate booster seats, or don’t make them wear seat belts, you are a negligent parent! And to the parents who wear their seat belts but allow their children to be unrestrained, I have no words, except to ask, don’t you love your child?

So what if you have never had an accident before, and have a perfect driving record? It only takes one accident and you get to live the rest of your life with regrets.

 Public transport for children

Those that I have sympathy for are the poor parents who must use public transport. They don’t get the choice of putting their little one into a car seat to help ensure that they arrive at the destination alive. They risk their lives every day getting into minibus taxis, whose drivers insist that the child sits on the mothers lap or they have to pay the full fee! The law also requires these taxis to have enough seat belts for their capacity and we all know that often these taxis have more passengers than seats. I so wish there was something that could be done but with an ineffectual traffic department, these parents just have to pray they get to their destination safely.

Why can't this be the reality for all?
Why can’t this be the reality for all?

 The statistics

The most recent statistics that I could find stated that 50% of road accidents resulted in the highest number of deaths due to injury in children under 5. US studies showed that seat belts could have prevented 75% of injuries in children under 5 and 50% in children aged 4-12.

A little bit of physics; if you are travelling at 60km/h and have to brake suddenly, the unrestrained passenger carries on going not only at 60km/h but also with their weight increased by 30-40%. It is beyond my skills to give you that physics of what happens when you hit another car or a stationary object, but perhaps the video below will help you understand.

 Be warned

I found this YouTube video by Salim and Simah, Safe and Sound- Oman, which I think parents need to see. It may offend sensitive viewers.


If you have car seats or booster seats, that you no longer need, because your children are over 12, you can drop them off at your nearest Renault dealer or Wheel Well in Johannesburg

Medicine cupboards

Medicine cupboards 9

Medications are a necessary part of life when living with kids.  Especially essential is having a good first aid kit and the right medications are important.

Plasters of all sizes are a must but make sure they are not in reach of toddlers and young children otherwise you will be going through boxes by the day, especially the character plasters.

Expired Medication

Go through all your medicines and check expiry dates.  All expired medication should be taken to your pharmacy for proper disposal.  There are also some GP’s who collect medication which has not expired and which you no longer use.  They then distribute them to patients who have no money and need those medications.

First aid kits

A very important item in every home is the first aid kit! You can either put the first aid kit together yourself or you can buy one from your pharmacy, supermarket and other places. First aid kits do not come with any type of medication.  Remember that it is illegal to give someone medication. Parents can give to children and family members but in your office the health and safety act says that you may not give even a paracetamol for a headache.  This is to prevent the possibility of allergic reactions or toxic interactions between what you give your colleague or employee and what they have taken at home whether chronic or once off.

a good first aid kit is essential
a good first aid kit is essential

What to keep

A good idea is to speak to your doctor about keeping the following items on hand at home; pain relief medication for headaches, mild antispasmodics for the occasional abdominal cramp as well as over the counter mild antihistamine, antiseptic cream, and an allergy cream.

It is important to store them correctly in a cool dry place and out of reach of kids.  We took it one step further and also had a safety lock box as my son liked to climb and open cupboards when he was little.


Don’t accidentally overdose or poison someone

Please remember that adult dose vitamins are toxic to children and should also not be left lying around.  However, even the kids vitamins can cause problems because the chewable vitamins often taste like sweets and children like to eat them.  Certain vitamins are toxic if they are taken in excess, it is, therefore, not a good idea to tell kids that they are getting a sweetie each day.

While paracetamol is one of the safest medications available, an overdose can have severe and permanent repercussions.

Here is a link to a video of what to put in your first aid kit.

Do you have a first aid kit? Do you have more than one? What is your most essential item in the kit?

Do you know who to contact?

This week the 2nd month of the year begins! I can’t believe how fast it is already going. We have been sorting and organising for a month so far and I want to know how are you doing? Are you practically paper free? Are you making contact with others?

This week we look at creating a contact list. Part of last week’s task was to create an emergency contact list.

You and your friends have been on Facebook asking friends for recommendations for numbers of music teachers, plumbers, electricians, builders, dog walkers, house sitters and even pest control. So what did you do with all that valuable information? Did you ignore the numbers because they weren’t relevant to you at the time?

Need a number
Need a number for a service, but don’t know who to contact?

How about us moms with teenagers? When we were kids our moms had a list with all our friends telephone numbers because, 20 years ago, nobody had cell phones in South Africa. Now if your teen goes out, do you have the numbers of the friends she is going with? Do you have the number of the parent who is taking them to their rendezvous?

Do you know how to get hold of your kids? Draw up a contact list of all their friends

Do you mommies, with kids in primary schools, have a class list with all the children’s names and contact numbers? That list was very useful in my house on more than one occasion, not only for homework collaboration but on the day when one of my children was not at school when I went to fetch her! I was able to phone every mother on the list till I eventually found her. The mom was stunned, as her daughter had phoned the night before to confirm the arrangement with my darling child; my daughter just forgot to ask me!

I prefer my old fashioned book, as I find it easier to look up numbers on it because when I look up numbers on my phone, like for our previous school, 3 numbers come up but no name! Look up ABSA and about 10 numbers come up with NO details! My husband has a thing about numbers, so every number he ever gets is stored on both our phones!

Paper and Pen
I use an old fashioned alphabetical phone book as backup for my contacts

My book is nice and small and doesn’t rely on battery power.

I have a lady who brings 2 of my girl’s home from school every day and, when she asked for the address of the school, all I had was the street name! It is now written in my book, along with the High School’s address, as all I can tell people is where it is and what colour the wall is. We have been dropping a child off there for a year already.

Do you know the address?

If you have friends who move often, write their address in pencil! That way it is easy to update.

Something new that we need to keep track of as well, are email addresses.  Almost everything is electronic these days. I sent out invitations to my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah (similar to a confirmation, it is a Jewish girls coming of age when she turns 12), with the postal service mildly unreliable due to theft and our countries favourite past time, striking, your invitation may not get where you need it.

I still remember, one of my wedding invitations arriving at someone’s home in Kew Gardens, South Africa, when the envelope was clearly addressed to Kew Gardens, New York.

As part of getting your numbers in order, I have started making bracelets for toddlers and small kids, with their parents cell numbers on, in case they get lost. You can place your order either through the Facebook page Adiesdesigns, or on the page Kashering your life, by sending me a message, or email or Ashleigh Elad on

Kids safety contact bracelet
kids bracelets with mom’s cell number on to contact if your child gets lost

I hope everyone has a great week finding their way.

Let us know what ideas, or solutions, you came up with when organising your phone numbers.

Toxic love

I would like to introduce a special guest writer, Felicity Ahern.  She is someone whom my mother and I have tried for ages to persuade her to write her own blog.  Reading her Facebook posts about simple everyday parenting moments, often has us in stitches!  So far, no luck. I did, however, ask her to write this post for me and, hopefully, there will be more to follow. Today she is writing on household cleaners.

Clockwise from the back, Felicity, Dale, Will and Charlie
Clockwise from the back, Felicity, Dale, Will and Charlie

Felicity is my ‘baby’ cousin who was born in South Africa and lives in Melbourne, Australia.  She is a wife and full time mother to a daughter and son, an aspiring community actress, actively interested in Australian politics, a very strong advocate for environmental issues and the only person I personally know who drives an electric car (Nissan Leaf).

Felicity’s first post for kasheringyourlife.

I had an epiphany not long after the birth of my first child.

I realised that to me, my child’s body was a temple and as such, I made sure I cooked all her food, with special attention paid to the ingredients I used and the nutrients involved. (My second child got whatever I could come up with, a lot from baby food companies so my halo slipped all the way to my butt with him but whatever, you get my point..)

You want to use safe household cleaners!

As time went on, I started to also pay attention to my children’s environment in which they were growing up. Specifically, our home and how we were cleaning it. To my shock I became aware that cleaning products can be deadly, toxic death traps of ‘deathness’!

I couldn’t use these products anymore and still feel like I was helping my family.

To this end, I began to look into natural products to use around the home, for my family but also for the environment, which is becoming increasingly damaged due to our careless use of toxic chemicals.

Here, I would like to talk about other options for a cleaner, chemical free family home.

If you use a multi-purpose spray for counters, hard surfaces, tables etc, you have a few choices.

First, you could buy earth-friendly brands. Here in Australia, I have found the affluent, bigger companies (who generally despoil the environment and its people regularly) have grabbed the prime supermarket shelf space right at eye level and a bit below.

Take a look next time you’re in the supermarket and you’ll see quite often, the earth friendly, eco-conscious products are buried either on the top shelf or the bottom. It isn’t often at easy access level. (That goes for food as well, I think.)

Just because it says eco friendly doesn't mean it is
Just because a household cleaner says eco friendly doesn’t mean it is

In Australia, we have a brand called Earth Choice. They’re pretty good, but you’re still using chemicals, just plant based ones…    They’re also a bit pricier. Yes, it IS more expensive to buy these types of products. I hate it but it is a fact.

Also, be aware, some brands SAY they’re earth friendly, they even brand themselves with names like “Nature’s Choice”, “Natural” or “Yay for Earth” (that last one was made up but you get my point!) but are using the new push for environmentally friendly products to make money.

Make sure you read the ingredients. If all the ingredients are indecipherable, step cautiously. Be ESPECIALLY cautious of companies who don’t bother with any ingredients list at all…. though I believe all ingredients must be listed in South Africa.

You want water, natural oils, no parabens…you want the company to specify what they don’t have and you want ingredients that don’t sound like they all climbed out of a beaker in a lab somewhere.
There IS a cheaper, even cleaner, and definitely my favourite, option.

Mix water and white vinegar in a spray bottle (use an old one under the sink, we all have them lying around most of the time) and voila!

White vinegar is a fantastic cleaning option and it’s entirely safe to use!

If you like, maybe add a few drops of peppermint or lavender oil which you can get in those little bottles.  This should last a fair while and add some sweetness to the air.

I also sometimes squeeze a little fresh orange into the bottle. Whatever you do, don’t squeeze citrus fruits directly into the spray bottle, strain it first or it will jam your trigger on the spray bottle and render it useless!!

I think cleaning companies have realised quite a few people have started using white vinegar for cleaning purposes and thus, there has been a new “cleaning vinegar” available to buy at an inflated price in Australia.

Don’t be fooled!! Just buy the regular cheap white vinegar and it is the same.  I buy a 2 litre white vinegar bottle for just over a dollar.

Well, see how you go and feel free to let us know how the white vinegar works out for you!

I use it on EVERYTHING!!

Here are some handy links if you feel the urge to investigate further, or want some clarification:


P.S. A large bottle of plain white vinegar sells for R20 at PnP! Spray bottles are available at all plastic and cleaning supply stores. This is the only thing I could find when asking about environmentally friendly products in South Africa. I have not used any of these products,

The horror of drownings- A reality of summer

Drownings and near drownings

If you own a pool, if your friend owns a pool, if your parents, or anyone you know, owns a pool, then this is for you.

When someone falls into a swimming pool you only have around 60 seconds to take action before there is a risk of permanent and, sometimes, tragic consequences.

Although drowning statistics that are less than 10 years old are hard to come by, there are some fixed statistics that I found which haven’t changed. The few articles I was able to read did not have dates, so I have no idea when they were written.

A child can drown in less than 3 cm of water
A child can drown in less than 3 cm of water

Here are a few facts; a child can drown in less than 3 cm of water! Internationally more males drown than females (I could not find out why this was but I searched numerous sites and they all agreed with this statistic) and lastly, 90% of drownings happen while under supervision.

I have personal experience with this. We were at friends for lunch four years ago.  The moms were sitting by the pool talking and the dads were swimming with the kids. Suddenly I noticed that one boy had his brother hanging limply in his arms.  He had found him at the bottom of the pool. We pulled him out and I began CPR immediately as the child had no pulse and was not breathing. Thankfully the outcome was good and the child has no lasting side effects. This was a 9 year old child, who could swim, and was under supervision of 6 adults.

If you can't swim, make learning your new years resolution
If you can’t swim, make learning your new years resolution

Water is an integral part in African tradition and some of these beliefs have, therefore, prevented the older black generation from learning to swim.   25 years ago only 15% of South Africans could swim and the majority of those were white. Now thank goodness, kids are being taught to swim, especially those attending schools in the cities as most schools have swimming as part of their sports’ curriculum.

kids are learning at school, but if your school doesn't do lessons, take them to a swimming school
kids are learning at school, but if your school doesn’t do lessons, take them to a swimming school

In Jewish culture, we have an obligation to teach our children how to swim (or at least how not to drown). I think every single parent has this obligation.

There are numerous swimming schools around that start teaching when the children are still babies. It used to be called drown proofing.

babies can also learn to swim
babies can also learn to swim

According to an undated Netcare 911 post I found, their statistics showed that there are more drowning incidents inland than there are at the coast.

A government website for GEMS stated, in an undated article, that there is a minimum of one drowning per day and that for every 1 child that dies, 5 are left with brain damage.

So what exactly is drowning? The definition is that there is a respiratory impairment from being in or under a liquid. The term drowning is mostly used when being submerged in liquid led to death and the term near-drowning is used to refer to those who had survived the submersion.

Secondary drowning occurs when fluids build up in the lungs. This usually happens after a near drowning incident. The person can be walking around and appear fine after their ordeal and a few hours later they are in critical condition, or dead.

The sooner you begin effective CPR on a person who has drowned the more likely they are to survive. However, the success rate drops after 4 minutes and after 8 minutes severe brain damage is inevitable. The two most important steps to a successful outcome, besides prevention, is knowledge of CPR and getting help fast.

Here are your important numbers:

Nationally on your cell: 112 This is a call centre and can be dialled from any cell, as long as it has a battery.  No airtime or sim card needed.

Provincial: 10117

Netcare 911: 082 911

ER 24: 084 124

Hatzolah is the Jewish community ambulance service: 083 222 1818

Rescue 786, is the Muslim community ambulance service: 083 9000 786 or 011 040 1888


How do you prevent drownings?

  • At least 2 forms of pool protection, i.e. net and fence, plus a gate alarm
    A solid cover or a net with small spaces is best
    A solid cover or a net with small spaces is best

    pool alarms alert you when something falls into the pool
    pool alarms alert you when something falls into the pool
  • Don’t leave toys in the pool when you get out. These attract the kids.
  • The use of inflatables gives a false sense of security. They should still be used under supervision,as it can prevent the child from turning over if they land face first in the water
  • Small wading pools must be emptied after use.

    Empty the pool when the kids get out, use the water for your plants so you don't waste it
    Empty the pool when the kids get out, use the water for your plants so you don’t waste it
  • Above ground pools must have their ladders removed.
  • Make sure the person supervising the water play can swim in case of an emergency
  • Know CPR. Have a list with the relevant numbers clearly displayed at home or near the pool. The doctor, the ambulance service, a close friend or relative plus those mentioned above.
  • In a bath, never leave a child unsupervised, even sitting in a bath ring.
  • Never ask young siblings to supervise while you leave the room
  • Don’t leave water in a bucket and pull out the plug from the bath immediately after use.

    children are curious,don't leave buckets of water unattended
    children are curious,don’t leave buckets of water unattended
  • Keep your bathroom doors closed
  • Get safety locks for your toilets. Toilets are a great place for toddlers to throw toys into!

    children love to put things in the toilet and then try to get them out again
    children love to put things in the toilet and then try to get them out again
  • This is the most difficult. If you can’t swim, don’t get in the water to rescue anybody! If you get in to trouble then not only do you need someone to rescue your child but you will need rescuing too.


Enjoy summer by the pool, or at the beach, responsibly  Make it a summer to remember with only good memories and experiences.

What is your child’s life worth?

Distracted Driving

What is that text message worth?

Last week I wrote about seat belts.  This week I look at something that causes 25% of all accidents in South Africa. Besides speeding and drunk driving, texting while driving is the biggest cause of road accidents in South Africa.

In January 2014 there were a reported 1376 road deaths and over the Easter weekend 208 deaths as opposed to 14 deaths over the same period in Australia! We are ranked number 36 in the world for having the worst road safety record!

It only takes 52 seconds to change your life, is it worth it
It only takes 52 seconds to change your life, is it worth it?

The research for this article was very difficult as there either doesn’t seem to be statistics available, or the statistics are 4 years old.

Discovery Insure CEO, Anton Ossip, said in an interview that 2/3 of South African drivers make calls while driving and that, on average, 20% of drivers will spend at least 3 minutes on the phone per trip.

He also said that 40% of drivers with hands free kits still make 80% of their calls manually!

Another article said that ‘One teen, texting while driving, has the same reaction time as a 70 year old driver who isn’t texting.!

The AA stated that texting while driving is 6 times more dangerous than drunk driving and Car and Driver Editor, Eddie Alterman ,in a 2010 experiment, said that at 110km/h the stopping distance, while drunk, was increased by 1.2 m.   Reading a text while driving increased the stopping distance by 11 m and when sending a text it shot up to 21 m. The stopping distance is how long it takes the car to come to a complete stop.

watch your stopping distance not your screen
watch your stopping distance not your screen

Mothers with toddlers – put your kid on the floor and close your eyes for 60 seconds. How far did they go?  What did they get up to in those 60 seconds?  Firstly, 60 seconds is a long time to have your eyes closed and secondly, in 60 seconds your toddler has probably left the room. While making a call (not a text) you are distracted for 52 seconds if you are driving at 60km/h.  It is the same as if you were asked to drive blindfolded for 1 km and you are 4 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

Safe cell phone use advocates, from left, Troy Creason, Annette Skoczylas (CQ), Kristin Kelly, Jocelyn Wilson, Dana Moody and Lisa Fuller display their message on the Rock on Oct. 28, 2008 at the University of Tennessee. Members of the group want get the message out about the dangers of talking while driving as part of a public health class they are taking.
Safe cell phone use advocates, from left, Troy Creason, Annette Skoczylas (CQ), Kristin Kelly, Jocelyn Wilson, Dana Moody and Lisa Fuller display their message on the Rock on Oct. 28, 2008 at the University of Tennessee. Members of the group want get the message out about the dangers of talking while driving as part of a public health class they are taking.

Another test for yourself:-  Go to a mall, take out your phone and look at the screen for 52 seconds, do not look up but continue to walk.  How far did you get?  How many people did you bump into? If this is what happens when you are walking, how much worse will it potentially be if you are driving at 60km/h?

The 2013 statistics that I found, stated that there are 32 accidents per 100 000 people in South Africa each year.  This is roughly 13 000 accidents per year and costs the country an average of 307 billion Rands!

South African accident statistics work differently to the rest of the world.   In South Africa they only count road deaths for people who die within 6 days of the accident and not 3 month like the USA. This means, if someone is in an accident and lingers for more than 6 days, they are not considered to have died as a result of that accident. This makes our road fatality statistics fairly unreliable.

The most common age, for these road deaths, was people between the ages of 20 – 40 years old, with men being more likely to die than women.

Was the call worth it?
Was the call worth it?

The CDC in America stated that world – wide, distracted driving is highest cause of road deaths in the world.  This not only included texting, which was the highest cause in this category, but also eating, reading the newspaper, putting on makeup , shaving and driving with children.

Over the years I have heard some horrific stories.  For example, when  a person who was texting, turned the corner and smashed into a trailer that was being loaded with luggage for a school trip and killed the young boy who was loading his suitcase. David O’Sullivan related a story, while doing work for Carte Blanche, about a woman who was sending a text to her mom when she was involved in an accident that has left her paralysed!

Oprah Winfrey started her movement called the ‘No Phone Zone’.  She did a program where she interviewed people who had either lost someone in an accident caused by cell phone use, or had caused the accident because they were distracted by their cell phone.

It is not just texting that is dangerous.  People who talk on the phone are 4 times more likely to be involved in an accident.  Oprah stated that phone use, while driving, is the same as driving after 4 drinks.  In South Africa the legal limit is 2 x 75 ml glasses of wine in 1 hour.  Unfortunately, this is mostly ignored and accident statistics involving drunk drivers are very high on the fatality list.   If you are driving and texting, it is almost impossible to take evasive action, should you be in the path of a drunken driver!

One family told of their 11 year old daughter who was killed 10 meters from their house by a driver talking on a cell phone.  Another 23 year old Oprah interviewed, was 18 at the time and texting his girlfriend.  He hit a car, pushing it into oncoming highway traffic, killing the 2 men in it!  He no longer sleeps through the night and suffers constant nightmares.

A lady who lost her mother, said that the man who caused the accident was using a hands free kit but was so distracted by the conversation, that he ran a red light and ploughed into her car.  She also said that a car is not an office, it is not a phone booth, it is something that is meant to get you from A to B. The woman who lost her mother is a real estate agent and spends most of her time in the car.  It is not where your hands are that is the problem but rather where you head is!

Multitasking is not a skill to practice while driving
Multitasking is not a skill to practice while driving

Texting while driving decreases your parietal lobe activity by 37%. Your parietal lobe is responsible for two things.  One is sensation and perception and the other is integrating sensory input which has to do with the visual system. This means,  it is the part of the brain that tells you there is a car in front of you and that you need to brake.

I would love to start Oprah’s movement here is South Africa by pledging to make our cars, ‘no phone zones’. This means turning your phone to silent so that it can’t distract you, or putting your phone in the boot (trunk) while driving so that you can’t get to it, or maybe changing your message to “Hi, you have reached ………….I am not available right now, this may be because I am in the car and I do not use my phone while driving.  Please leave a message and I will call you when I am no longer in the car.”

Pledge to make your car a phone fee zone!
Pledge to make your car a phone fee zone!

If you would like to join me in this new campaign, please write a note in the comments section.

I pledge to make my car a No Phone Zone!