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DHS news release

May 3, 2004

Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180
Technical contact: Adrienne Greene, Oregon Safe Kids (503) 731-4241; Randy Henry, Oregon State Marine Board (503) 373-1405 ext 247; Bill LaMarche, Oregon Zoo (503) 220-2448

Oregon Safe Kids invites parents to a day at the zoo on May 8

“Splash into Safety” is the theme of the annual Oregon Safe Kids event, Saturday, May 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Road, Portland.

“This is a great way for parents and kids to have fun and learn how to be safe when playing in and around the water,” said Adrienne Greene, Oregon Safe Kids coordinator in the state Department of Human Services. “This year our focus is really geared toward drowning prevention, but we’ll have other safety exhibits, too.”

The Safe Kids fair is free to those who pay zoo admission. Interactive display stations will teach children about water, poison, traffic, fire and helmet safety, and what to do in an emergency. Prizes, safety tips and hands-on activities add pleasure to the learning experience, Greene says.

Drowning ranks second among causes of unintentional injury death among Oregon children ages birth to 14 years. Between 2000 and 2002, 28 children drowned and another 44 were hospitalized for injuries sustained while in the water, according to Greene.

“Sadly, these deaths could have been prevented,” Greene said. “Educating families about water safety is vital to preventing future drowning and near-drowning incidents.”

Greene said that most parents of children under age 14 seem to be knowledgeable about water safety, yet one in five swimmers between ages 8 and 12 admit to swimming without a lifeguard or adult present at least a few times.
Oregon law mandates that children under age 12 must wear life jackets while boating, said Randy Henry, Oregon Marine Board.

“Life jackets are the greatest single protection against drowning,” says Henry. “Since Oregon’s law was passed in 1998, youth drownings related to recreational boating are virtually nonexistent. We have a very high rate of life-jacket use among this age group now.”

The Oregon Zoo has hosted the Safe Kids Day at the Zoo for five years. “We have thoroughly enjoyed hosting this event annually in May as part of the National Safe Kids Campaign’s Safe Kids Week promotion,” said Krista Swan, events coordinator for the Oregon Zoo.

Sponsors of Safe Kids at the Day at the Zoo are: Oregon Safe Kids Coalition, Oregon Marine Board, Oregon Zoo, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Think First, American Red Cross, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Oregon State Parks, American Medical Response, Oregon Poison Center, Acts Oregon, Portland Fire Bureau, Oregon Burn Center, Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, Operation Lifesaver and the ASK Campaign.

The Oregon Safe Kids Coalition is part of the National Safe Kids Campaign, dedicated to the preventing unintentional childhood injuries, the number one killer of children ages 14 and under.

Visit the DHS Web site for more information about Oregon Safe Kids.