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DHS news release

April 28, 2008

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Program contact: Adrienne Greene, Oregon Safe Kids, 971-673-1001

Prevention works: child injury deaths decline in Oregon

Oregon has reduced unintentional injury deaths to children by 54 percent since 1995, according to public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services.

"Kids are alive today because action was taken to protect them," said Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist in DHS. "But while we celebrate this progress, we need to keep working because unintentional injury remains the number one killer of children."

Kohn said that from 2001 to 2005, the five leading causes of unintentional injury death to children age 14 and under were:


  • Motor vehicle deaths (includes auto, bicycle and pedestrian deaths): 44 percent
  • Suffocation: 18 percent
  • Drowning: 13 percent
  • Fire: 5 percent
  • Other land transport (primarily all-terrain vehicles): 4 percent

"Parents and caregivers have a major impact on child safety," Kohn said. "It's important that they integrate key prevention actions into their daily lives."

Specifically, he advises:

  • Ensure children are properly secured in a backseat of the car for every ride; keep children in the right type of car or booster seat until adult lap and shoulder belts fit them correctly.
  • Do not place blankets, pillows or other soft items in a baby's crib. Keep small items such as toy parts, coins, buttons and beads away from children under age 3.
  • Always keep your eyes on your children when they are playing in or near water.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and outside bedroom doors.
  • Many professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended a ban on all-terrain vehicles for children under 16 because of their immature judgment and motor skills.

"It's not safe for children who are not legally permitted to drive a car to operate ATVs," Kohn said.

Kohn credits the reduction in child injury deaths to a multitude of efforts by individual people, community organizations and governmental agencies. "Whether it is passing a new child safety seat law, holding a child safety seat clinic or raising awareness of the need to wear a bike helmet, it all makes an impact," Kohn said.

Oregon Safe Kids, established in 1995, has played an important role in building and coordinating local chapters across the state. During Safe Kids Week, April 28 through May 2, many communities will be hosting activities to draw attention to the issue of preventing accidental injuries (list attached).

A Safe Kids USA report, also released today, shows a decline of 45 percent nationally in accidental injury deaths among children age 14 and under. That report, along with child safety tips, is on the Safe Kids USA Web site.

Information about Oregon Safe Kids and local chapters is also on the Oregon Safe Kids Web site.



Oregon Safe Kids Week activities

Portland: Safe Kids Portland Metro is hosting its Safe Kids Day at the Oregon Zoo event on Saturday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The date coincides with Head Start Day at the zoo. Safety professionals from the Portland metro area will provide interactive educational activities at 10 safety stations throughout the zoo. This year's theme, "Gear Up for Safety," will focus on preventing injuries to "tweens." Event partners include: Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, OHSU's Thinkfirst Program, Doernbecher's Safety Center, Kohl's, Oregon Poison Center, ACTS Oregon, Oregon Marine Board, Oregon Parks and Rec, Safer Routes to School, local fire departments, and American Medical Response. The event is free with Zoo admission. For information, call coordinator Lucie Drum, 503-231-6300 (for media).

Medford: "Gear Up For Safety" and join Safe Kids Rogue Valley for their annual safety event. The event will be held at the Medford Wal-Mart Saturday, May 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be plenty of free things for families to do and see; a bicycle rodeo, pony rides, jump houses, fire trucks and much more. At 1 p.m. the first 50 people to visit the Safe Kids Bus will receive a ticket good for one free Bell All-Sport Helmet and a helmet fitting. Grand prizes are two bikes donated by Wal-Mart. There will be a free car seat clinic held on Saturday, May 24, from 10 to 2 at the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford. For information contact coordinator Debi Bisbee, 541-774-2315.

Burns: Safe Kids Harney County will kick off national Safe Kids Week with a Safety Fair on Saturday, May 3, from noon to 3 p.m. at Slater Elementary School. The fair will feature a safety wheel game, which children and adults can spin, answer safety questions and win a safety prize. The Safety Fair will include presentations from professionals representing the Burns Police Dept., Burns Fire Dept., High Desert Parks and Recreation. For information, call coordinator Carrie Winstead, 541-413-1700.

Astoria: Safe Kids North Coast is sponsoring a Safety Fair on Saturday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Broadway Middle School in Seaside. The safety fair will feature safety stations with displays and presentations by professionals on water safety, helmet safety, fire safety, motor vehicle safety, pedestrian safety, and fall safety. There will be a bike rodeo for children to bring their bike and maneuver through an obstacle course. At each safety area, children can play a safety game, win a prize, and once they are finished visiting each safety area, their safety card will be placed into the grand prize drawing. For more information, call coordinator Tara Constantine, 503-325-2345, ext. 10.

Mill City: Safe Kids Willamette Valley will provide summer safety education and activities as part of the Mill City bike rodeo on May 3, from 10 a.m. to noon. The event will be held at the Mill City Middle School. Safe Kids Willamette Valley is partnering with several local agencies to provide summer safety activities in addition to the bike rodeo for children and their families. For information, call coordinator Kelly Owen, 503-561-2449.

Ontario: Safe Kids Malheur County, Project Dove, Fit For Life Health Clubs, Malheur County Health Department and Commission on Children and Families are hosting a One Mile Fun Run, mini "Fit for Life" program, and safety fair for children of all ages, but featuring "Tweens" -- at the Ontario Beck Kiwanis Park, 401 NW 8th Avenue, on Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to noon. The safety fair will feature safety stations with displays, games and presentations by professionals on playing safe, water safety, fire safety, pedestrian safety, seatbelt and car seat safety and bike helmet and safe riding practices. For more information, contact Sheri Smith, 541-889-5312, ext. 2319.

LaGrande: Safe Kids Union County will observe Safe Kids Week by holding a Safety Fun Fair on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 6 and 7, at the Blue Mt. Conference Center in La Grande, Oregon. The safety fair will reach close to 900 children in grades 4 to 6. It will feature four safety stations staffed by professionals presenting electric safety, drug/alcohol awareness, ATV safety, and bully/peer pressure. For information, call coordinator Patty McClure, 541-963-1387.

Pendleton and Boardman: May 15, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Safe Kids Umatilla Morrow hold a car seat checkup clinic and safety fair at the Boardman Children's Fair at the Port of Morrow. Safety fair activities will promote summer safety and safe play. For more information, contact Shelley Ena, 541-278-6291.