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The leading causes of accidental injury deaths for children ages 1-14 in Minnesota are car accidents, suffocation and drowning, while falls, bicycle accidents and poisoning cause the most injuries seen in hospitals/emergency rooms for ages 0-14, according to the group.
As such, child passenger safety is a priority for Safe Kids Anoka County. Besides public speaking on the issue, the group offers car seat clinics with nationally trained technicians throughout the year. The next one is scheduled for Aug. 13 at the Ramsey Fire Station.
Many car seats are installed incorrectly, or people turn them around to face the driver too early in a child’s life, before he or she has grown enough, she said.
It takes about a half-hour to check out a car seat, and people can make appointments to have them inspected outside of the clinic dates, she said.
These days more grandparents are taking advantage of the service. “It’s great to see. We used to hear people say, ‘I never had kids in car seats.’ Now they’re calling us for appointments. Things have changed since they had children,” she said.
Staying on top of trends
The group tries to pay attention to trends. For example, it’s seeing more “co-sleeping deaths rising, and this time of year the heartbreaking stories of children being left in hot cars. We have plans to address both of these topics,” she said, adding, “We don’t wait for someone to tell us there’s a problem. We try to get in front of it.”
For example, in response to a March case in which a man was accused of filming young boys in the locker rooms at a YMCA, Safe Kids Anoka County brought in an expert from the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center to lead a presentation called, “Protecting your children in an unsafe world.”
Later this year, the group hopes to take the presentation to a broader audience, possibly through area community education departments, Landes said.
Chandra Kreyer, a co-chair of the group who works in crime prevention at the Ramsey Police Department, said, “We talk about what else can be an unintentional injury, not just the most obvious things.
“Some can be personal with people. We want children to recognize when they’re in an unsafe situation and how to respond appropriately.”
For more information on the Safe Kids program, go to http://www.safekidsanoka.org/
Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer.