Anoka County program promotes safety for the sake of the children

  • Article by: ANNA PRATT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 18, 2013 - 3:53 PM

Safe Kids Anoka County holds bike helmet and car seat clinics, safety camps and other safety-related programs.

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The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office bike safety session emphasizes the importance of helmets to prevent brain injuries.

Photo: Missi Reeder , Anoka County Sheriff’s Office

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Fifty children evacuated a smoke-filled bus, crouching low and grabbing onto the seats to find their way to the back door.

“I couldn’t see my hands!” one boy exclaimed. “That was scary!” said another.

It was all a drill, with a machine pumping out plumes to simulate a real fire, part of a two-day safety camp held last week by the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office at the ­Andover Community Center.

Safe Kids Anoka County, a group that works to reduce accidental injuries in children ages 1 to 14, helped put together the camp. It covered everything from preventing brain injuries to Internet safety. Other local agencies have planned similar safety camps in the coming weeks.

The group, part of the state and national Safe Kids USA network, also hosts bike helmet and car seat clinics along with other educational programs. Today it is offering a bike helmet clinic and sale at the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office in Andover from 4 to 7 p.m.

Laura Landes, a crime prevention coordinator for the Sheriff’s Office who works with Safe Kids Anoka County, said its top priority is education.

“We don’t want people to live in fear. We want them to know the facts and the right responses,” she said.

At its bike helmet clinics, Safe Kids Anoka County encourages families to come with all members’ helmets. “We do education on what the proper fit looks like and feels like,” she said.

For those who don’t have the right size, the group offers helmets for sale.

She stressed the importance of bike helmets, which the group’s website says can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent.

Shelly Crawford, a pediatric nurse at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, added, “There can be distracted drivers, and how many bikers would they hit if they were texting or talking on the phone?”

Another issue is “kids trying to text and ride bikes at the same time, or longboard. We’re seeing quite a few injuries,” said Crawford, who co-chairs the Safe Kids Anoka County.

Thanks in part to her involvement with the group, Crawford has always required her children to wear bike helmets. It has already paid off in a big way.

Her 9-year-old son, Shae, was in an accident last year. He broke his nose and cracked his helmet in half. Without the helmet, “The doctor said he probably wouldn’t have made it,” Crawford said.

In a presentation about preventing brain injuries at safety camp, Shae showed the split in his helmet and pictures of him just after the accident.

“We tell kids that … you can’t get a brain transplant. You can’t live without your brain,” Crawford said.

Car passenger safety

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