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MRC News

Published on September 3, 2001
Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service

MADISON, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center is working with American Medical Response and the Madison fire and police departments to encourage children to think first about safety during National Childhood Injury Prevention Week (Sept. 1-7).

As part of Think First, the Jackson hospital’s statewide injury prevention program, Methodist Rehab employees will promote the Sammy Safety Seatbelt Patrol at Madison Ridgeland Academy on Wednesday, Sept. 5, from 7:30-8 a.m.

Sammy Safety, Methodist Rehab’s injury prevention mascot and a certified safety superhero, will team up with paramedics, police officers and firemen to remind children to always wear their seatbelts when riding in automobiles.

Sammy and friends will reward buckled drivers and passengers with Lifesavers and issue dum-dum suckers to unbuckled motorists. They’ll also give each child information about seatbelt safety and a family safety checklist.

“There are a lot of other things that parents can do to prevent childhood injuries,” said Lauren Fairburn, Think First coordinator at Methodist Rehab. “People often focus on outdoor activities that may be dangerous to their children while forgetting about hazards inside their homes that can cause just as much harm.”

Fairburn encourages parents to make a family safety checklist and recommends some simple measures that may prevent serious, often life-threatening injuries:

  • Install smoke detectors in each bedroom and check batteries monthly.
  • Stock and maintain first-aid kits.
  • Keep emergency numbers near telephones and first aid supplies.
  • Shorten and conceal cords and wires to less than 10 inches in length.
  • Set the water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent burns.
  • Keep guns unloaded and locked away.
  • Install covers on electrical outlets and gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Keep household cleaners, medicines and vitamins out of reach of children.
  • Parents and children should always wear bike helmets and seat belts.
  • All children 12 or younger should be properly secured in the back seat of automobiles.
  • Children under 10 should never cross streets alone.
  • Children should always be supervised around water.

Each year an estimated 500,000 people sustain brain and spinal cord injuries in the United States. The most frequent causes of these injuries are automobile crashes, falls, athletic injuries, especially diving, and violence. Children and teens are at high-risk for these devastating injuries, many of which are preventable.

Think First is aimed at young children and teenagers and tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on bicycle, automobile, firearm, boat, swimming and diving safety.

“Our physicians, nurses and physical therapists do all they can to prevent traumatic, often life-changing injuries,” said Mark Adams, president and CEO of Methodist Rehab. “They work closely with schools, fire and police departments, and other health care professionals to encourage children to always think first about safety and injury prevention.”

For more information about Think First, Sammy Safety or to set up a Think First event at a Mississippi school, call Lauren Fairburn at 601.364.3451.