Dubai: Two children, aged one-and-a-half and three years old, were killed in a tragic accident after the vehicle they were left in burst into flames.
The incident, which took place at the Mina area of Abu Dhabi, was reported on Wednesday.
Gulf News spoke to new and young parents in the UAE who said they were shocked and saddened by the tragedy that struck the young victims, who were brothers.
One social media user who claimed to have witnessed the incident, however, urged others not to pass blame on the victims’ parents as the mother had just stepped out of the car for one moment before tragedy struck.
'My children are always in a pram'
Radha Fonseca, a 34-year-old Sri Lankan mother of two, aged five and two years old, said: “I never leave my children unattended. When I am driving with my children, my two-year-old is always secured in a car seat. My eight-year-old is on a booster seat. This is the basic principle I follow. I get very annoyed when I see children going crazy inside cars and not seated properly,” she told Gulf News.
She said her children, son Themika Wickramasinghe, 5, and daughter Vinuli Wickramasinghe, 2, are always accompanied by an adult when they are outside.
“If it is not my husband or myself taking care of the children, our nanny is doing the job.”
“I am particularly afraid of escalators and so I keep a close eye on them inside malls.”
Radha said she tries to create a balance between giving children the freedom to play around in child-friendly areas, but keeps an eye on their safety and security.
“Having said that, I would never like to blame parents for negligence. No parent can neglect their children on purpose. Circumstances sometimes create situations where parents have to be away from their children. I would just go the extra step and keep my nanny with them or have them on a baby monitor. I can never imagine leaving my children alone in the car even for a little time,” she said.
She explained that when the family go out, the children are always in the pram. “At the end of the day, parents are responsible when it comes to their child’s safety.”
'I monitor my baby via a video baby monitor'
British expat Alexandra Saikkonen-Williams, 33, a new mother of an eight-month-old boy could not agree more.
Alexandra also pointed out that she keeps a video baby monitor at home to ensure that her son is constantly safe during the day.
“He is with me for the most part of the day. It is only when he is sleeping that we keep the monitor on. Since he was six months old, he has been sleeping in his own room. He usually sleeps from 6pm until 5am. During this time, we monitor him via the video baby monitor.”
“I don’t leave my baby unattended for even a second. In the car too he is placed inside the car seat. I don’t take him to places where there are only adults or where people are smoking. Our outdoor visits are mostly to child-friendly places or friends’ homes.”
'Children in cars without seat belts are like missiles'
Dr. Sara Elliott of the British Veterinary Hospital in Dubai is also a new mother to an eight-month-old baby boy. She has three older children, who are 16, 13 and 8 years old.
“So there are enough number of people in the family to keep an eye on my younger children. My older children are always given directions to look out for their younger siblings when we are outside. “
Dr. Elliott said there are rules laid down when it comes to securing her children’s safety. “My eight-year-old sits in a booster seat inside the car. The 10-month-old definitely sits in the car seat. They are never unattended. Even if I leave my car for a few minutes to pay for something or shop for something, my older children or the nanny is there to attend to the younger ones.”
“Children can be like missiles in the car. If they are not secured properly and the driver [hits the brake], they can come flying onto the [front seat] or worse, they can fly out of the wind-screen. So be responsible, is what I would tell all parents. And of course, never leave children unattended. No matter what is the urgency, take your children with you. Nothing is more important than their lives.
'My son is on a harness when we go on a holiday'
Baneesha Lacombe, a Malaysian mother of a three-year-old boy and who is having her second child anytime soon, goes even to the extent of putting her child on a harness, especially when she is on holiday in a place where she may question the country's safety.
“I don’t put my children on a harness here in the UAE but yes, when I go back home to Malaysia, I do. Child kidnapping happens in the country every now and then. So we take care.”
In the UAE, Baneesha said she never takes her son Maxance Lacombe to places that are not child friendly.
“As parents, our lives change when a child comes into our lives. It is no more about us, but about our children and being there for them.”