International Walk to School Day leads the way with safety tips for kids and families

Who doesn’t remember their parents shouting “Look both ways!” as their 10-year-old-self jetted out the front door?

In today’s world of busy streets and endless distractions, keeping kids safe means going a little further than the proverbial “look both ways” of the last generation. New street-safety guidelines are helping kids and families keep it safe.

This year, Safe Kids Pima County and FedEx celebrated International Walk to School Day at Whitmore Elementary, where parents, teachers, volunteers and Tucson Police Department taught 74 kiddos safe walking tips. KVOA and KGUN9 attended to help spread the word about the importance of child pedestrian safety.

Jessica Mitchell, the Safe Kids Pima County Coordinator at TMC, provided the latest walking safety guidelines for parents, families and children of all ages:

Top Tips for Kids

  • Look left, right and left again when crossing the street. And continue looking until safely across.
  • It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Be especially careful in parking lots or when crossing driveways.
  • If you are using a cell phone, head phones or a game, remember: Devices down when you cross the street.

Top Tips for Parents

  • Talk to your kids about how to be safe while walking. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Teach kids at an early age to put down their devices and then look left, right and left again when crossing the street.
  • Children under 10 should cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, it can be hard for kids to judge speed and distance of cars until age 10.
  • Remind kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
  • Set a good example by putting devices down when you are driving or walking around cars. If we put our devices down, our kids are more likely to do the same.
  • When driving, be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones and be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.

Interactive Infographic

When kids are young, they are taught to look left, right, left before crossing the street, and to cross with an adult. But as they get older, and they are no longer with an adult, they need to learn walking safety goes far beyond looking both ways.

It is surprisingly common for children to get hit while walking. Every day, more than 40 children are hit by a vehicle while walking in the United States.

Safe Kids Worldwide, with support from FedEx, created an interactive infographic that provides an engaging demonstration of how crashes happen, and how they can be avoided.

How to Not Get Hit by a Car: 7 Common Ways it Happens and 7 Tips to Keep it from Happening to You highlights seven ways children are getting hit, paired with seven tips to prevent them from happening. You can learn how to not get hit by a car in less than five minutes with this fun infographic.

 

 

11 years and counting – TMC employee takes volunteerism up a notch

Tucson Medical Center is fortunate to have the support of passionate volunteers – and many of those volunteers are TMC employees like Heather Burkett, donating their time and effort to build a safer community.

All in

TMC sponsors and participates in community-based events throughout the year, providing free bike helmets, safety information, free car seats, school supplies and much more. It’s an important way TMC contributes to the overall health and well-being of the communities it serves.

If you attend any such events, you’ll find a TMC table or two with friendly volunteers like Burkett, helping fit children to the right bike helmet, handing out pool safety tips, offering health-related prizes and the like.

From an early age

“I’ve been volunteering since age 10,” said Burkett, who has been working at TMC for nearly twelve years in central scheduling. And she has been volunteering for TMC ever since she signed on the dotted line.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Burkett said. “You get to see the diversity of our community and meet so many people – I’m so glad that TMC participates in ways that allow me to keep volunteering.”

Above and Beyond

Many TMC employees donate their time – it’s part of the community-focused culture of the hospital.

“We really are lucky to have so much staff involvement,” said Jessica Mitchell, CPSTI, the TMC community outreach coordinator. “With busy lives and families, we don’t expect employees to volunteer at every event – but Heather Burkett does.”

Mitchell said It’s more than Burkett’s frequent presence that makes her memorable. “It’s her positive spirit and cheerful smile – no matter how busy the event is, what the weather is like or how early we are volunteering, she brings happiness and it spreads to the staff, children and families.”

Real reward

Although Burkett enjoys meeting new people in the community, she explained her true motivation to volunteer.

“It is a great feeling to know you are helping families, but It’s so rewarding to get feedback from people when they tell you they were born at TMC or a relative recently stayed at TMC and had a good experience – you get to hear their story and appreciation.”

What’s next?

Burkett has logged more volunteer hours than most do in a lifetime – so, does she intend to continue volunteering?

“Oh yes!” she said. “I will always try to do as much as I can.”

 

Click here for more information about the TMC Desert Kids Safety Program. And don’t forget to check out the Safe Kids Pima County page as well.

 

Deck the Halls Safely – with Safe Kids Coordinator Jessica Mitchell

Finally, the temperatures have cooled enough that there is the tiniest bite in the air that signals our desert winter. I love this time of year, surrounding myself with family and making memories for my children. In our house we’re putting up the tree, lighting candles and baking cookies. It smells like vanilla and pine and all things wintertime.

Of course, along with all the delights of the season there are some safety concerns:

  1. Candles
    Those pine-scented candles I love so much are a burn risk. I make sure to have them at least 12 inches from any flammable material, and because I have young children, out of their reach. When you leave a room you blow out any candles. I also have a set routine every night of checking to make sure I haven’t forgotten any candles.
  2. Decorations – Kid-friendly
    They’re shiny and glittery and just shout ‘Touch me!’ Watch out for baubles that break easily when you have young children around. Kids are curious and will want to play with the ornaments on the tree, so you might as well prepare. Move the ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks towards the top of the tree. That makes room at the bottom for the ones that are safer for young kids.
  3. Lights – Cords
    Stringed lights mean extra cords. Make sure cords are taped down to reduce trip risks. Also, make sure that you’re not overburdening the sockets and creating a fire risk. Check that your lights are in good working condition with no frayed or exposed wires or loose bulb connections.
  4. Tree
    If your family brings a pine tree inside at this time of year there are a few things you can do to lower the risk of fire. Make sure you keep the tree watered on a daily basis so that the needles don’t dry out. Is your tree located at least several feet from any heat source, including heating vents and lights as well as candles and fireplaces? Always turn the lights off on the tree when you go to bed or leave the house. When the season is done make sure your tree is disposed off. A dried out tree on your property is a fire risk.
  5. Smoke alarms
    Make sure you have checked your smoke alarms recently and the batteries are working. If the alarms are more than 10 years old they’ve probably expired, and it’s time to replace them.

Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season,

Jessica

Jessica and family celebrating the holidays

Jessica Mitchell is the Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator. Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children aged 19 and under.

Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local coalition is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 600 coalitions in 23 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

 For more tips on keeping your family safe all year round

check out our website

 

Drivers beware of ghouls and goblins

halloween drivingSo Halloween isn’t your thing. Your plan for Halloween evening involves turning off all the lights, disabling the front door bell and retreating to the back of the house where you can’t be bothered by an incessant stream of trick-or-treaters. Perhaps Halloween is your favorite holiday and your household is so frantic with anticipation, you’ve even taken the day off work to prepare! Whether you’re a lover of all things Halloween or not, whether you have kids or not, we have a special plea for tomorrow – Pay particular care while driving tomorrow.

Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween as on any other day of the year. Take particular care this Halloween with these tips from Safe Kids Pima:

  1. Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  2. Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  3. Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  4. Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  5. Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
  6. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 19 and under. Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local coalition is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 600 coalitions in 23 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

 

Halloween Safety Tips from Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County

I love celebrating Halloween with my family, but I must admit I feel like I’m holding my breath all evening. Like many Tucson neighborhoods, ours has few street lights and on Oct. 31, kids are EVERYWHERE, often in dark costumes, often zigzagging across the roads to trick or treat. It’s a safety nightmare! Did you know that children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year?

We try to watch where we are going, watch where our little ones are and watch for cars all at the same time. It can be really tough. I give my kids glow sticks to help them be seen by others, including drivers of cars. An added bonus, they think glow sticks are the coolest things ever!

What can you do to make Halloween safer this year for your children?

  1. When selecting a costume make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
  2. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  3. Since masks can sometimes obstruct a child’s vision, try nontoxic face paint and makeup whenever possible.
  4. Have kids use glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  5. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, remind them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
  6. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Plan ahead and keep your little ghouls and goblins safe and sound this Halloween,

Jessica

Jessica Mitchell is the Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator. Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children aged 19 and under. Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local coalition is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 600 coalitions in 23 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

These halloween revelers need a few glow sticks and then theyll really be shining.

Walk this way – Walk to School

Safe Kids Pima County and FedEx volunteers will join students from Whitmore Elementary and around the county to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 4. International Walk to School Day raises community awareness about walking safety and promoting healthy behavior.

Did you know unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19? Teenagers are now at greatest risk with a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

Whether or not your child’s school is participating, Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator, provides these suggestions for parents:

Teaching kids how to walk safely:

  1. Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across. Teach them to never run or dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  2. Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers. Parents, let your actions speak as loudly as your words.
  3. Encourage your children to be aware of others who may be distracted and speak up when they see someone who is in danger.
  4. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  5. Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
  6. Remind kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
  7. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  8. Cross streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Most injuries happen mid-block or someplace other than intersections.

As kids get older, they’re anxious for a little more freedom when walking to school or playing outside. But this is also a time when parents need to stress the importance of the little things big kids should do to stay safe.

Remember you are your child’s first role model. Lead by example:

  1. Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.
  2. When driving, put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until your final destination.
  3. Be especially alert and slow down when driving in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.
  4. Give pedestrians the right of way and look both ways when making a turn to spot any bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible.

For more resources to help keep your family safe
visit our website.

 

Safe Kids Pima County – keeping kids safe through education and advocacy

Safe Kids Pima County LogoPlenty of us have practice patching up the skinned knees and elbows of active children in our lives.

Unfortunately, though, accidents are too often far more serious than bumps and scrapes. In fact, accidents are the leading cause of death for ages 0 to 19 – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news about this chilling statistic is that we have the power to change it. “Childhood accidents can (often? always? Almost always) be prevented – a few easy steps for children and adults can help keep kids safe,” said Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County coordinator.

Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations focused on preventing accidental, childhood injury by educating adults and children, creating safe environments, conducting research, and advocating for effective laws.

Mitchell is a part of TMC’s participation in the Safe Kids initiative, working with community partners to actively engage adults in taking action for stronger child safety. From providing free bike helmets and pool safety to education workshops and school presentations, Mitchell coordinates a full schedule of activities to facilitate child safety awareness.

Jessica MitchellRecently, Mitchell spent a week at Frances Owen Holaway Elementary School, educating each PE class on the merits of bike safety.

“We explain to the kids ‘the brain can’t fix itself’ and make sure every student has a helmet and how to put it on correctly,” Mitchell explained. “The kids also learn the proper hand signals, where it’s safe to ride and how to avoid taking dangerous risks.”

Many child accidents involve bike riding. Over the past three years, Safe Kids Pima County has provided more than 8,000 free bike helmets to children in our community.

Safe Kids Pima County provides information and resources to help keep kids safe. Going forward, look for Mitchell’s monthly blog posts on helping keep kids safe, happy and healthy.

For further information about Safe Kids Pima County, please email safekidspimacounty@tmcaz.com or call (520) 324-2783. If you are holding a community event and would like Safe Kids Pima County to attend or participate, click here.

‘Who put this car seat in?’ – Serious wreck tests mom’s skill at installing car seat

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Amber Bermudez and her son, Luis

As the mom of a 2 year old, Amber Bermudez is the first to admit that when it came to installing her son’s car seat, she would always have somebody else do it. “I would have other people do it for me because I didn’t want to mess up on something that important,” she said. Then one evening this past summer, she was watching KVOA News 4 Tucson when she saw a Kristi’s Kid’s segment – a car seat call-in event. The program was simple. Call in, schedule a class to attend that weekend and then receive a free seat that’s appropriate for your child. Bermudez figured it was education she needed. “I thought it would be important for me to learn how to install his car seat properly in case something ever happened.”

The program, funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, is a partnership between Tucson Police and Tucson Medical Center, in which certified child passenger safety technicians teach the classes and provide age- and weight-appropriate car seats. That weekend, she attended the class, which was taught by TPD Officer Danny Peralta. “I remember Amber. She was taking tons of notes in the back of the class and I told her she really didn’t have to do that,” he laughed. “She insisted that she did.”

One of the biggest things she learned? It’s considered a misuse to use both the seat belt and the LATCH system to install a car seat. It’s considered best practice to use either one or the other – but not both, as it’s never been tested.

She also learned that although her son was approaching his third birthday, it was best to keep him rear-facing if he didn’t exceed the height and weight limit for the seat. Keeping a child rear-facing as long as possible helps protect the child’s head, neck and spine in a crash as they cocoon into their seat, as demonstrated in this video.

Well educated and now confident in her installation skills, Bermudez went home and installed her son’s new car seat.

Fast forward a few months, and the unthinkable happened.

FB_IMG_1448998998538On Dec. 1, Bermudez was driving her car with her mom in the passenger seat, her husband in the back seat on the passenger side, and her son, Luis, snug in his car seat in the middle of the back seat. A pick-up truck ran a red light at 29th and Wilmot causing a T-bone collision. “The impact was so hard, it broke the drive shaft off the truck,” said Bermudez. “The back tires from the truck ran over the front of my car.”

Bermudez and her husband were seriously injured, as was her mom who was trapped against the dash.

Tucson Fire crews responded immediately. “Everything happened so fast and was so surreal, but I do remember the medic asking, ‘who put this car seat in?’ I was scared at first thinking, ‘did I do something wrong?’ Then he told me that it was installed perfectly. He said that when, as first responders, they get called to car accidents where children are involved, the car seat is usually not installed properly, which leads to children being injured. He told me that my son’s car seat took all the impact of the crash. When he told me Luis was OK and that it was only because his car seat was installed properly, I broke down in tears. I was so relieved,” she said.

Luis didn’t even have to go to the hospital for observation. Bermudez, her husband and mom were all transported to the hospital via ambulance while her dad picked up little Luis from the scene.

Bermudez is still nursing an arm injury that may require surgery. Her husband is undergoing surgery for his arm injury and grandma is still suffering from a serious knee injury. But while the physical injuries will take time to heal, and mentally she’s still shaken, Bermudez’s emotional state is solid.

Tucson Police Officer Danny Peralta

Tucson Police Officer Danny Peralta

“I was so relieved that I took the time to get the education and do everything right,” she said, adding that as a mother, she was proud of herself for doing everything she possibly could to protect her baby in a crash. “If I hadn’t taken that class, I’m not sure that my son would be OK today. What Officer Peralta taught me really stuck. And he gave me the confidence to install my son’s car seat for the first time ever. If I hadn’t taken his class, it scares me to think of what may have happened to my son that day.”

TMC offers an assortment of programs for child passenger safety including a car seat loaner program and Children Are Priceless Passengers (CAPP) class, which is held every month in English and Spanish. For just $35, parents can receive life-saving education and an appropriate car seat for their child. TMC also provides free booster seats as part of the Boost Your Booty program.

Additionally, Geico funds a TMC child passenger program, Ride Safe Kids. Classes are held once a month, in English only, where parents can receive education and an appropriate car seat for free. Please call (520) 546-7340 for more information.

Please click here to see KVOA News 4 Tucson’s coverage of the story.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461