Monday, July 11, 2005

Vehicle Safety with Kids

by Christina VanGinkel

Safety with kids is an issue that needs to be constantly at the forefront of every parent's daily agenda. While dwelling on anything to the point of obsessive-ness is not good, safety is the one issue that does need to be with each of us day in and out. This morning's local news brought to mind this important fact too clearly. It recounted an accident at a local farm.

While I at first assumed they were going to talk about an accident directly related to farm equipment or in one of the many buildings usually located at a farm, it was not. A visitor entering the farm's yard had run over a small child as the child ran towards the car. The child tripped and fell beneath the wheels of the car and died tragically. My heart goes out to both the family and the driver of the vehicle, as it is one of those accidents where it is hard to find fault. Yes, the parent's should not have left the child to run towards a car, and the driver should have been more aware of his or her surroundings as they pulled up the drive, but that is a lot of should have, could haves.

There is a lesson to be learned here though. How many times have we reminded children not to run towards or around vehicles? With crowded yards, children also often play in driveways where vehicles are parked. This is not acceptable, no matter what. If a game of basketball or even an innocent game such as hopscotch is to be played in a driveway, clear the drive first, then stay with the kids as they play supervising them. We must be ever vigilant in both supervision and reminding them as they become old enough to learn, that any vehicle, moving or not, is not to be ran towards, played by, run behind, etc. I have heard adults tell children not to run into the road, yet go on to see those same adults let children ride their bikes in a driveway where cars are pulling into and out of on a continual basis. Accidents can, and sadly do, happen. Not every accident can be avoided, yet we as the adults must take every effort available to us to remember just how dangerous the mixing of children and vehicles can be.

Earlier this summer the local news also told the tragic story of one young child who was left in his parent's vehicle with a sibling while the Mother ran inside her house to answer a ringing phone. In the few seconds that she was away, the one child ran over the other child with the vehicle. If you can imagine something happening with a vehicle, it has the chance to occur. Never leave children in a vehicle unattended, never leave children by a vehicle unattended, and never allow children to play in an area, even shortly, where vehicles pull in and out of, such as driveways and garages.

With summer in full swing, and children outside more than ever, take a few minutes each day to remind them of safety issues that they can easily forget as they get involved playing and just being kids. Take perspective of how you supervise your kids at play also, and if it means washing the dishes right after dinner, or going outside with them to keep an eye on them and leaving the dishes till after they are in bed, believe me, the dishes will wait!

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