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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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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Larimer County Sheriff’s Kids Christmas Party – Santa’s Little Helpers

This December will be the 23rd annual Larimer County Sheriff’s Kids Christmas party! The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office provides a magical Christmas party for over 120 children kindergarten through 5th grade from mobile home communities in unincorporated Larimer County.  Santa and Mrs. Claus talks to each child and gives them a Christmas gift just for them!  The kids get to see Mr. Incredible – with all his magic tricks.  They play games and get prizes, visit with McGruff, the crime prevention dog, and enjoy snacks before they find out who won a bike!

Throughout the year, donated bikes are refurbished for the kids bike raffle at the Christmas party.  Each child has a raffle ticket with their unique number on it.  When arriving at the party, the child can place his/her raffle ticket in the bike box they would like to have.  We have between 30 and 50 bikes each year and Safe Kids Larimer County donates and fits helmets for every bike and winner!  When the child’s name and number are called as a winner – their faces light up and you know it’s going to be a great Christmas!  It is so nice to be able to not only provide a bicycle to someone who may not have one, but also a helmet to keep them safe!

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~Barbara Bennett, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office

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Marijuna Edibles

Would you Know a Marijuana Edible if you Saw It?

It’s hard enough for adults to distinguish what is “regular” food and what a marijuana edible looks like, especially just by “looks”.    Can you imagine the dangers they pose to children?  If you have these items around, please lock them up and have a conversation with your children to help them understand the packaging and why it is not for them. 

There have been recent news items sharing overdose stories of someone who ate an entire candy bar that had marijuana in it. One serving of that candy bar was actually only 1/16 of the bar.  Another story told us of someone who ate an entire chocolate chip cookie (ONE cookie) and overdosed.  A serving was 1/6 of the cookie.  Not many people have the willpower to only eat 1/16 or 1/6 of an item.  Overdose can happen quickly.  Below are some samples of Marijuana Edibles to demonstrate how difficult it would be for children to tell the difference.

While Marijuana is legal in Colorado it is still extremely dangerous to children.  Be safe!

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