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Safe Kids Day Interview with Lorrie Walker


 

 

With Safe Kids Day coming up, we asked Lorrie Walker of Safe Kids Worldwide to tell us a little bit more about the great work this organization does to protect children. With more than 26 years of experience, Lorrie is one of the country’s most respected authorities in child passenger safety, so she was the perfect person to give us the scoop on this important effort.

What is Safe Kids Worldwide?

Safe Kids Worldwide is a nonprofit organization working to protect kids on the road, at home and at play from the number one killer of kids in the U.S.: preventable injuries. Almost a million children around the world die from an injury every year, and almost all of these tragedies are preventable. We work on a number of issues, including pedestrian safety, medication poisoning and car seat safety.

What is Safe Kids Day?

Safe Kids Day is a time to celebrate kids and take action. Most people are surprised to learn that preventable injuries are the number one cause of death for children in the U.S. But there are simple things we can do so kids can grow up healthy, safe and strong.

How can parents participate in Safe Kids Day?

In addition to our signature event in Los Angeles on April 23, more than 200 events are taking place around the county. There is probably an event in your community. Parents can go to safekids.org to find a local event and donate to support this important cause. Additionally, parents can sign up at our website to receive a free Safe Kids Kit, a digital toolkit, including valuable resources designed to protect kids at whatever age and stage their own children are currently in. This way, families can say “I’m In” to keep their kids safe.

What does Safe Kids Day mean to you?

The best part of my job is helping families every day to protect their children and to keep the most precious things in the world to them safe. Safe Kids Day is an opportunity to reach even more parents and to keep even more children safe. Plus, we get to do so in a way that celebrates kids while having fun. What could be better than that?

What are some of the biggest challenges that Safe Kids faces in educating parents about preventable injuries?

Parents today are incredibly busy and have to juggle many different things. We’ve found they often prefer information in bullet format. Information about car seats and other types of road safety are often specific to the child, the vehicle and the driver. For example, a child may ride to school in mom’s car (one type of seat belt and tether) and get picked up at the end of the day in grandma’s car. They could be driven to dance class by dad and be driven home in a carpool. Each vehicle may require use of a different car seat or attachment. Parents sometimes think of safety as a “one size fits all” when it is different in each vehicle and for each child.

What do you wish every parent knew about preventable injuries?

There is great truth to “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is true economically speaking, but also in terms of lifelong injuries. Some of my saddest conversations are with parents who knew how to protect their child but didn’t do so for one reason or another. I remember in particular a mother who put her child’s car seat in the trunk so she could drive people she barely knew home from work. Her child was held on a lap in the front seat.  They crashed and the child was ejected and killed. She had tremendous guilt. I tell parents you do not want to ever say, “I wish I had…”

What is the most common child passenger safety mistake that parents make?

Some parents don’t like to make a decision that will make their child a little unhappy. So, they will allow the child to come out of the car seat, have loose straps, sit in the front seat, etc. Once you break the rules, you open yourself up to the child controlling their safety, and we know of no toddlers who can make that decision wisely. I tell parents it is easier to stick to your decisions when they are two than when they are 13.  It only gets tougher.

If you had a magic wand, what source of preventable injuries would you eliminate?

All of them! I work primarily on child passenger safety, but it’s so important for parents to educate themselves on preventable injuries at home, on the road and at play to keep their children safe in all situations.

How can families talk about safety in a way that engages kids?

I like to tell parents that your child is watching you from the moment their car seat turns forward facing. We often hear from grandparents who tell us their grandkids freak out if they try to put the car in gear without a seat belt on. That’s because the kids learned the lesson at an early age. So making safety decisions in the house, car, playground or really anywhere should be explained so the child is part of the decision. This isn’t the same as letting the child make the decision - it’s letting them know that the decision is yours and you are sharing it with them. I love to hear a little one parrot their parent’s language to their friends. We want to build and strengthen kids so when they’re completely unsupervised they know what to do to protect themselves.