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We Are Public Health, May 2014.

We Are Public Health 2014-05

This story features the work of Safe Kids Wyoming.

We are public health.
We work to prevent childhood injuries.

Safe Kids Wyoming is an organization that works to reduce unintentional injury. For children, unintentional injuries—accidents—are a leading cause of death. But there are steps that parents can take to reduce the chance that their child will be hurt or killed in this way. Sometimes, though, parents either aren’t aware of what they can do or just haven’t gotten around to making things safer. This is where Safe Kids Wyoming comes in.

Stephanie Heitsch, Safe Kids Wyoming State Coordinator says, “When a child dies or is seriously injured, the lives of families and entire communities are changed forever. But these tragedies don’t have to happen. The important thing to remember about preventable injuries is that they are preventable. They often occur in predictable ways and can be completely avoided with the right education, awareness, and planning.”

Safe Kids Wyoming is a resource to parents year-round, but in Cheyenne, the annual Safe Kids Day is an opportunity for kids and parents to have fun while learning more about how to prevent injuries. The 17th annual Safe Kids Day in Cheyenne took place on May 3, 2014 at the Cheyenne YMCA.

“We look at all the things that are simple fixes, things that parents know to do, but sometimes get complacent in doing,” said Victoria Ingerle, Injury Prevention Assistant at Cheyenne Medical Center and coordinator for Safe Kids Day in Cheyenne.

These simple fixes include the proper installation of car seats, consistent helmet use for biking and skating, and poison control. Parents may also not know that they need to take steps to prevent TV tip-overs or how to make cribs safe places to sleep.

At the event, visitors could watch a gun safety demonstration, purchase kids’ bike helmets for $5 each, and learn about farm safety. “Even though we are a rural state, not everyone is familiar with what happens on farms. People found it interesting to learn that children use a variety of equipment on farms, including ATVs,” Ingerle said.

“Parents come thinking that their kids will learn something, but it often happens that the parents hear something new,” she said. “For example, some parents are surprised to learn that when a child falls and hits his or her head while wearing a helmet, the helmet shouldn’t be used again.”

Safe Kids Day is the biggest single event that Safe Kids Wyoming puts on in Cheyenne, but from the middle of April to the end of August, it is bike rodeo season. On select days, kids can attend a bike rodeo to get their bikes checked and helmets adjusted. Then, when everything looks good, they can go through an obstacle course and play a start/stop game. “This one is important,” Ingerle said. “You want kids to be able to start up without an unsafe wobble.”

There’s nothing seasonal about the need for car seat inspections, and residents of Cheyenne can get them year-round by appointment at the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center. All parents need to do is to make an appointment for a free safety check and adjustment.

Traffic crashes continue to be the leading cause of death and injuries in Wyoming and nationwide, with a misuse rate of car seat being between 75 and 80 percent. There are many variables for families to look at when installing and using a car seat, and most of the time these misuses are easily remedied.

Safe Kids Wyoming focuses on the importance of a shared, community response when it comes to preventing unintentional childhood injuries. This collaboration makes all the difference when it comes to keeping children safe and healthy.