Teen Drivers – What’s a Parent to Do?

Written by Heidi McBroome, Insurance Agent at All About Insurance.

Because teenagers are new drivers, they simply don’t have the behind-the-wheel experience necessary to understand the dynamics associated with driving a motor vehicle. There’s a vast difference between riding in the passenger seat and being behind the wheel. By teaching teenagers responsible driving behavior, you can help prevent crashes. Here are a few ways to help your teenager through the Graduated Driver’s Licensing period.

  • Choose vehicles for safety, not image. Ask if the car has airbags and antilock brakes? Make sure it is not brand new, but has 4 doors, front wheel or all-wheel drive for good all-around practical safety on the road.
  • Provide new drivers with plenty of supervised driving practice, even after they have obtained a license, including night driving and driving under hazardous road conditions. Go above the required amount of driving instruction. And have them drive you around even after they are licensed.
  • Mandate safety belt usage. It is a primary offense and the ticket is going to impact more than just the points they lose. It will raise insurance rates and cause a disruption to daily routine if you have to go to court.
  • Restrict the number of passengers allowed to ride with your teenage driver. Crash rates increase sharply when a teenage driver has passengers, particularly other teenagers.
  • Enforce “no drinking and driving” rules. I would add no eating either.
  • Emphasize that safe driving requires your teen’s full attention. Distractions such as cell phone use, navigation, social media, radio, and text messaging will greatly increase his or her risk of motor vehicle-related injury.
  • Place restrictions on nighttime driving to enforce curfews.
  • Enroll new drivers in a driving school to educate them about cars, driving conditions and driving techniques. This will prepare teenagers for the road, and it could reduce crashes.
  • Discuss and reinforce responsible driving behavior with teenagers.
  • Have a contract between you to create the discussion. (Here is an example of one you can use: https://www.cdc.gov/MotorVehicleSafety/pdf/Driving_Contract-a.pdf)plain logo

Car Seat Safety Outside of Your Car

Written by Gregory Colton, EMT/Child Passenger Safety Coordinator, UCHealth Emergency Medical Services.

Ambulance crews across the country respond to thousands of pediatric calls every day.  Of all those calls nothing will make us push our ambulance to the limits like responding to a call for a baby who has fallen asleep and does not wake up.  Sleep related incidents are a leading cause of death for infants and we all know it too well.

We frequently talk about safe use of car seats in your car, but what about car seat safety outside of your car?  A properly installed and adjusted car seat can protect your child from many dangers, but when used incorrectly a car seat can become a potential hazard.

Rear-facing-only or ‘infant’ car seats often have two parts, a base that stays inside the vehicle and a carrier that caregivers can take with them.  Many parents opt for these systems due to their convenience and ability to be used in a stroller.  This may give parents the impression that their car seat carrier is a handy multifunctional device.  However, it is important to remember that your child’s car seat was designed to be just that, a car seat.  Car seat carriers are engineered for safe riding in cars and compatible strollers.  They are not intended for napping or extended use outside of a vehicle.

We all want our baby to be happy and comfortable.  As a result it can be tempting to keep them happy by letting them continue sleeping in their car seat and let them be comfortable by loosening the harness straps.  It seems innocent enough, but this actually creates a very dangerous situation for a child.

Two of the most important ways a car seat carrier keeps your child safe are through proper recline angle and proper positioning.

  • Recline angle – A baby’s head is heavier than its brand-new neck is ready to hold up. At an incorrect recline angle a baby’s head can drop forward and block off their airway.
  • Positioning – Babies are squirmy little worms. Without something to stabilize them in place a baby can roll onto their side or their face and suffocate or slide down and be strangled by the harness straps.

We strongly recommend using the car seat carrier outside of the vehicle or stroller as little as possible.  That said, we do understand that the ideal world is not always achievable.  If you do have to use the carrier by itself please keep the following points in mind:

  • Always keep the harness buckled and snugged down tight. – This will keep your baby safely positioned. Remember the pinch test and the chest clip at armpit level.
  • Place the carrier on a firm, hard surface low to the ground. – This will help prevent the carrier from toppling over or resting at an incorrect angle.
  • Keep the baby under constant supervision. – A baby’s blood oxygen levels can drop dangerously low when their airway is blocked even for a brief time.
  • Transition the baby from the car seat to the crib as soon as possible. ­– A firm, flat crib free of potential suffocation hazards is the safest place for a baby to sleep.

If you need help with your car seat or have any questions there are a number of EMS, law enforcement, and fire professionals who are passionate about child passenger safety and here to help.  Please click here for a list of available resources in your community.

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Back to School Safety

Written by: Master Police Officer Dave Sloat, Loveland Police

As we start to get our children ready for the upcoming school year gathering school supplies and school clothes, we also need to think about back to school safety.

Family life can be hectic when school starts and we sometimes get in a hurry. Please review the below safety tips and share with your children their first lesson of the new school year.

Kids going to and from school

  • “Use your head, wear a helmet.”
  • Tell your kids to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible. Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stoplights.
  • Tell kids to look left, right and left again when crossing the street. Teach them to never run or dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • Cross streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Most injuries happen mid-block or someplace other than intersections.
  • 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.
  • Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don’t know well or don’t trust.

Motorist

  • “STATE LAW – YIELD to pedestrians in crosswalk.”
  • Flashing school zones reduce the speed limit to 20-mph while the flashing yellow beacons are operating. Please slow down while driving through these zones and look out for school children crossing the street!
  • Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
  • Watch for bicycles.
  • Eliminate distractions. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
  • Always stop for school busses that are loading or unloading children.
  • Watch out for school crossing guards and obey their signals.

 

For more important safety tips please visit the ‘Safety Tips’ section of the Safe Kids website!Loveland PD.jpg

Swift water safety tips

Each year we see many water rescues and even a few deaths in our rivers. Poudre Fire Authority offers these water safety tips:

1. Tell someone where you are going. 

Or better yet, go with a partner. Let someone know when you expect to return and if your plans change, and be sure to leave a note on your dashboard to alert others.

2. Be prepared.

Children and inexperienced swimmers should always wear life jackets, even if they aren’t planning on getting in the water. Also, be aware that not many places west of Ted’s Place (intersection of U.S. Highway 287 and Colorado Highway 14) have cell service.

3. Don’t forget the power of the river.

Seriously though. The river is strong and usually calls the shots. Remember that water is high during spring runoff and also after heavy rains (or a late snow in May).

Also, be wary of river banks. Even if you’re not planning on swimming, banks can be unstable and give way beneath you.

4. Know your surroundings.

Check the weather ahead of time and keep an eye on the skies.

5. Know what to do.

If you’re caught in any fast-moving water, try to float feet-first in a half-sit position.

6. Reach or throw, DON’T GO.

If someone is caught in fast-moving water, reach out or throw something to them. Don’t go into the water yourself or you may also be swept away. Also, call 911 as soon as you can.

7. Carry a first-aid kit.

Or take a CPR class. These may seem like no-brainers, but having basic tools and knowledge may save be all that’s required to save a life.

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Safe Routes to School Encourages Biking for Brain Health

Spring has sprung! That means more outdoor activities and kids walking and biking to school! The Through the 5 E’s (evaluation, encouragement, education, enforcement, and engineering), Safe Routes to School programs throughout the nation strive to encourage walking and biking to school. Not only does this reduce traffic in busy zones, it is also a healthy habit!

Thompson School District’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program works with local agencies, organizations, cities, and developers to try to make walking and biking to school a safe, fun and healthy activity for students in elementary and middle school. Activity before and after school does not only improve physical health, it also gives a boost to a student’s brain power. As little as 7 minutes of physical activity before a test has proven to boost test scores by up to 17%! Regular physical activity also helps with a child’s memory and focus.

Because of this, TSD’s Safe Routes to School program works with Safe Kids Larimer County to make sure students are aware of the importance of protecting their most valuable asset – the brain! The partnership with Safe Kids’ Strap and Snap program to teach 3rd graders helmet safety goes hand in hand with the Safe Routes goals. A main focus of SRTS bike safety training is teaching kids to always wear a helmet when on a bike, scooter, skateboard or skates!

May is Bike to School Month and with the warmer spring weather it’s a great time to encourage students to get out and ride! An easy way to get kids riding is to start a bike train to and from school – a group of neighborhood riders of all ages that can meet up at different locations in their neighborhood to ride together.

It’s like a carpool—without the car—with the added benefits of having safety in numbers (a bigger group of bicyclists can be easily seen by traffic), added exercise, and visits with friends and neighbors.

To start your own neighborhood bike train:

  •  Invite families who live nearby to bike (or walk) together. (or start a sign-up sheet at your school)
  •  Create a route and take a test ride.
  •  Decide how often the group will ride together.
  •  Be sure everyone knows how to be safe on their bike – review hand signals, look for traffic when crossing a street, and ALWAYS wear helmets.
  •  Have fun! (create theme days, decorate your helmets, enjoy nature!)
  • Click here for more tips on creating your own bike train. 

 

Written by Mechelle Martz-Mayfield, Thompson School District Safe Routes to School Coordinator

 

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