It was an accident!” That unintended event you didn’t expect to happen. That moment that caught you off guard. We’ve all been there in some form or fashion. The ball thrown through the window. The glass of milk split on the table. These common “accidents” are relatively harmless and seem unavoidable in life.

Capitol Business MachinesBut now imagine your active, fully clothed two-year-old jumping from a dock when you turned your back for just a moment. I had no idea I could walk on water, but apparently that day I did as my two-year-old did just that. Lifting her out, she exclaimed, “I’m a mermaid, Mama,” water pouring from her mouth. We were fortunate!

As the parent of a child most would affectionately call “accident prone,” I am all too familiar with injury. As I have learned, accidental – or “unintentional” injuries as they are termed by safety experts – are a leading cause of death among children. And guess what? With a little knowledge and the right equipment, they are often completely preventable.

Safe Kids Teen Volunteer
SKTC volunteer Aidan King provides safety education and activities during a community event. Photo courtesy: Danielle King

Safe Kids Thurston County (SKTC) is a locally based coalition of Safe Kids Worldwide, a national non-profit dedicated to the health and safety of children. For over 20 years, SKTC has taken a community approach to providing lifesaving education and equipment to residents. They bring together medical experts, emergency responders, law enforcement, city and county planners, governments, community-based organizations, schools, businesses, and concerned citizens to review causes of injury and death among children and young adults to collectively determine how best to prevent them.

Beyond the amazing volunteers and community support, SKTC is made possible through a unique partnership between the Child Care Action Council, the lead agency and Thurston County Medic One, which provides funding to support the coordinator, Danielle King. The coalition operates on a minimal budget relying on foundations, grants and donations to provide safety devices and services like monthly car seat installations to families. If you ask Danielle, “One death is too many. A small investment ($10 bike helmet or trigger lock, $15 life jacket, $20 fire alarm or $45 car seat) could mean the difference of life or death to our most vulnerable citizens – our innocent children.”

Safe Kids Danielle King
Danielle King, SKTC coordinator since 2011, believes every child deserves to be healthy and safe. Photo courtesy: Danielle King

Today, SKTC primarily focuses their efforts on water safety, pedestrian safety, motor vehicle passenger safety and home safety to address the leading causes of injury and death to kids in Thurston County. According to Bonnie Peterson, longtime SKTC volunteer, “Safe Kids has made a significant difference in Thurston County by providing safety items for the home, car, water and recreational play.”

Most recently, SKTC convened the third Youth Pedestrian Safety Environmental Task Force to begin reviewing the Tenino school zone for opportunities to improve safe travel to and from school. Previous task force meetings and the partnerships they have garnered with Thurston County Public Health, Public Works and community organizations have led to successful Safe Routes to School projects (valued at $1.6M collectively) around Lydia Hawk Elementary and Olympic View Elementary. “Creating safe routes to school for individuals of all abilities is essential to a healthy, safe and active community,” Danielle states.

Summit Lake Loaner Cabinet
McLane Fire Department built and installed the life jacket loaner board at Summit Lake (1 of 15 in the county). Photo courtesy: Danielle King

While often under-recognized, “Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death to children ages one to 14 in Thurston County and has been for the last decade,” according to Danielle. To address this, SKTC currently supports 15 life jacket loaner boards at public and private parks throughout the county. While not a substitute for supervision, ensuring those in need have access to a life jacket can save a life. Additionally, SKTC works with private pools to improve access to swim lessons, especially for those unable to afford them. Planning is underway to offer free half-hour swim lessons as part of the World’s Largest Swim Lesson on June 21 through a partnership with the Evergreen Pool and Molina Healthcare.

Another significant issue addressed by SKTC is poisoning from common household items and medicines, and access to unsafely stored firearms. By partnering with businesses and the medical community, SKTC has been able to provide lock boxes and trigger locks to keep dangerous items out of sight and reach of kids.

Safe Kids Car Seat Inspection
Chief Steve Brooks and Matt Chambers of Lacey Fire install a car seat during their third Tuesday monthly car seat inspection station.
Photo courtesy: Danielle King

Since living in a bubble is not a realistic option, with some awareness, persistence and the right equipment, my family survived the toddler years. And now we find ourselves preparing for teen drivers in the not so distant future. (Yikes!) As with most things, safety takes practice and it’s never too early to start. “Seatbelts – on. Cell phones – down.” And, by all means, practice what you preach so you will be around to enjoy your kids.

You can get involved with Safe Kids Thurston County and help prevent injuries in several ways:

  • Connect and share @SafeKidsTC.
  • Donate or help raise funds for safety devices and services.
  • Join the SKTC coalition or volunteer for a community outreach event.
  • Practice safety with your family. Check out Make Safe Happen for safety tips.

To learn more about SKTC and upcoming events, visit Safe Kids Thurston County online.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email