Many fire departments across the country have implemented the holistic approach to child injury reduction from the NFPA known as Risk Watch. But what is your organization doing to reinforce the lessons that you are teaching in the classroom? Are you providing the needed program resources that will truly make a difference in your child injury numbers?
There are countless programs available to educators to make the important connection between the classroom concept and the real-world practicality of keeping our children safe. Here are some ideas for programs with a big impact potential for keeping your community safe:
Through a grant provided by the Snohomish County SAFE Kids Coalition many fire departments throughout our region our able to provide bike, universal, and ski helmets at a reduced cost to our communities. A donation of $9.00 per helmet is requested to help replenish the grant funding, insuring our ability to maintain the availability of these helmets at a very economical rate.
Community members are able to schedule appointments for area youth to come to the fire station and have a helmet that is custom fitted to their child's head for the specific activity they will be participating in. This hands-on fitting approach also provides an excellent opportunity for the fire department to teach parents, and their children, some important lessons in safety as well as showing parents how to insure the proper fit of the helmet into the future.
There are helmets available for many different sports that the youth of your community may be participating in, and it's important that as safety educators that we understand the difference between them. We must also acknowledge that they are not necessarily interchangeable by recreational activity, and thus may not provide the appropriate protection for the activity. Here's a basic look at what's available and its' application in keeping our kids safe:
Bike Helmets: Are designed specifically for protecting children involved in a bicycle accident. The majority of the protection in this helmet is built into the front because statistics show that most bicycle accidents are forward motion/forward falling incidents.
Universal Helmets: With the advent of roller-blades, skateboards, and scooters came a helmet with increased back-of-head protection. Most injuries involving these recreational items are from falling backwards. Universal helmets provide excellent protection from these types of injuries.
Ski Helmets: A very specialized niche in helmets to designed to protect children from common skiing injuries.
Car Seat Inspection Site Program
Over 90% of all car seats installed by parents are done so incorrectly. This staggering statistic has prompted a movement in the State of Washington to do something to increase the safety of children riding in restraints while at the same time educating parents on the proper installation and use of car seats.
Our solution to this challenge: The Marysville Fire District, in partnership with fire and police agencies county-wide, offers its' headquarters station as a permanent Car Seat Inspection Site. Several members of MFD and the Marysville Police Department work together to insure the safety of children riding in vehicle restraint systems as Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians. Monthly Car Seat Clinics engage parents in a hands-on learning activity that teaches them a wealth of knowledge about their own car and child passenger safety systems.
Our Tech's must complete the Standard 32-Hour Child Passenger Safety Training Program designed for individuals aspiring to become technically competent in conducting child safety seat clinics.
This technical course is taught with role-playing and extensive hands-on practice with both child safety seats and vehicle belt systems. Hands-on and written tests, as well as participation in a child passenger safety clinic, are required for successful completion. Satisfactory completion of this course meets the criteria for child passenger safety technician certification through AAA.
The Car Seat Inspection Program is in extreme demand in our community and the practical evidence of its importance has been shown in injury reductions to children in properly installed car seats within our fire district.
Life Jacket Loaner Program
The Life Jacket Program is another joint venture with the Snohomish County SAFE Kids Coalition. Life Jackets are available for both kids and adults from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. Life jackets are checked out based on an honor system and need to be returned at the end of each day. Directions on the cabinets explain how to size your child for a life jacket. A waiver and check out form located on the cabinets need to be signed and placed in a check out box.
These are just a few of the programs out there for you to choose from. Pick the ones that are best for your community and most practical for your department to implement. Best of luck in making your city a safer place for kids to live!