Safe Kids Oklahoma works to keep children happy, out of hospital

Bike rides, swimming and road trips equal summer fun. However, if injuries crop up, the scene can quickly change. Each year, injuries kill more youth than diseases, kidnapping and drugs combined.


In Oklahoma, according to a local organization, approximately 100 youth die each year due to accidental injury. That's why Safe Kids Oklahoma, headquartered in Oklahoma City, is dedicated to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury through a variety of education, safety events and legislation promotion.

One recurring instructional class is a seat safety program. The class is indispensable, said Christy Cornforth, a Safe Kids Oklahoma spokeswoman.

"Four out of five car seats are installed improperly," she said. To ensure proper fitting, Cornforth encourages community members to contact the Safe Kids Oklahoma office to partner with a certified child safety technician. The organization knows trained volunteer technicians in Oklahoma City and across the state.

"The list is extensive," Cornforth said. "We would like to be that resource for them."

Safe Kids Oklahoma also offers free car seats to qualified clients. Those seats save lives. In 2007, Cornforth said there were 89 fatalities that involved child passenger seats; 69 of those children that died were not properly restrained.

The Brittany Project is another program through Safe Kids Oklahoma. It offers life jackets for loan at Oklahoma lakes. The program was started by Dona Williams, the mother of Brittany Mobley, a 4-year-old who drowned at Lake Thunderbird.

The life jackets are available for use at no charge and hang on kiosks in the swimming areas. Safe Kids Oklahoma discourages parents from providing noodles or inflatable arm floaties to children as life preservers, and emphasizes the importance of life jackets.

"Life jackets should fit properly and be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard," Cornforth said, noting that in 2007, there were 27 unintentional drowning deaths of children under the age of 17.

Bike rodeos, held throughout the summer, teach children safety tips, such as the importance of wearing helmets.

"We stress to caregivers that helmets are 88 percent effective in preventing injury," Cornforth said. "And, after any accident, the helmet should be replaced."

One benefit to companies holding a bike rodeo is that Safe Kids Oklahoma provides 10 free helmets to the event host.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF and presented on the Safe Kids Worldwide Web site, the top five causes of accidental childhood injury deaths are road crashes, drowning, burns, falls and poisoning.

"Child injuries are an important public health and development issue," said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, in a press release. "In addition to the 830,000 deaths every year, millions of children suffer nonfatal injuries that often require long-term hospitalization and rehabilitation."

For information about Safe Kids Oklahoma, call 271-5695. "Gina Dabney

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