Imagine what it would be like if you could have a superpower. What it would be like to be a superhero?
Imagine that superpower involved saving lives: the lives of children. Perhaps even the life of your own child or one that you know and love.
You don’t have to imagine. You can be a safety hero, too! I’ll show you how!
I’ve just had the honor of attending and presenting at the Safe Kids Worldwide Injury Prevention Conference, known as PREVCON, in Washington, DC. Their tag line for the conference is “where safety heroes meet” and the graphics are done comic book style. It’s clever, and has a ring of truth to it. For this is where the safety geeks of the world come together, driven by a passion for which you should thank each and every one of them. They live, work tirelessly, and breathe to keep YOUR kids safer. They are passionate about injury prevention and safety for the children of the world.
Preventable injury is the #1 cause of death to children all over the world, including here in the United States. ALL of these injuries and deaths are preventable. But how? (Hint: it involves you.)
The recipe for injury prevention is really a simple one, but for some reason, getting people to come to the table and try the recipe, and then take it back to their own homes and families to share it remains a challenge. That is why PREVCON happens. How do we teach the world the recipe for child safety, as based on the latest research and statistics?
That’s an important point. We don’t make this stuff up. The things that are injuring and killing millions of children all over the world are well documented and researched. Every statistic is a real child and a real life. Every death is a child someone loved who was robbed of their ability to grow up and do great things. All because of something that could have been prevented.
If only their parents knew. Believed it was a danger. Took steps to prevent it. Told others what they knew so they’d be able to keep their kids safer, too.
I’m going to give you the basic recipe. How lucky are you? Hey wait. I just did!
First: Education and Awareness
You can’t prevent injury if you don’t know how it occurs or why it’s a danger. So the first step is to make people aware of the dangers that lurk in and around the home as well as outside of the home. Some of these are obvious and others are more “hidden” dangers. They are still dangers and kids are vulnerable to injury and death when parents are unaware of the danger.
Second: Understanding “it” (accidental injury or death) absolutely CAN happen to you.
It does not happen to other people. No one ever thinks it will happen to them. I sure as hell didn’t! It doesn’t happen only to “bad” or neglectful parents. It knows no race, money, educational background, or status. It happens to good, loving, attentive, educated parents every single day. If there exists a danger, and you have not taken steps to prevent it from potentially injuring or God forbid, killing your child, YOU and YOUR CHILD are vulnerable to it. Period. End of story.
Parents and grandparents need to get their heads out of the sand and stop thinking these things happen to “other” people. They need to stop being judgmental of the parents it does happen to, because it could just as easily happen to them if they’ve not taken steps to prevent “it”, whatever “it” is. No one is immune. No one is with their kids 24/7, so don’t tell me you are always with them and never out of your sight so they are not at risk. You are lying to yourself. I’m sure you use the bathroom, shower, get the mail, and sleep every single day. There are times you leave your child in the care of others.
Third: Take action to prevent it.
Knowledge is only power if you put it to use. Once you understand the dangers and *get* that it could happen to your child, you need to take steps to prevent it from happening. This could be in the form of some manner of childproofing, buying a proper fitting bike helmet and making them wear it, keeping them in the back seat until they are at least 13 and in a booster seat until they are both tall enough and mature enough to sit upright in the car and have the seatbelt properly positioned at all times. It could be teaching your kids not to be distracted by their phones or music when walking and crossing the street, never to text or talk when driving and for YOU to set the example by doing the right thing all the time yourself. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things you need to consider to keep your kids safe.
Fourth: Share it
Pay it forward. Once you understand a particular danger or hazard, know how to prevent it, and have taken the proper steps to make your home and child safer, share what you’ve learned with your friends and family. Do your part to keep other kids safe. It takes a village. Be part of the village and help it grow!
You know what my superpower is. It’s really not me at all, it’s my beautiful daughter. It’s sharing her story, our story, and her beautiful face. It’s about preventing tip-overs. It’s about my knack for passionate education so no other parent ever have to know my pain or bury their child from something a few dollars and a few minutes could have prevented.
So what’s your safety superpower? Maybe you have more than one! It could be that it was born of an experience you had with a child. Perhaps an actual injury or maybe a near miss and you and your child were “lucky”. Maybe, like me, you experienced the worst loss, your child died from a preventable accident. Maybe, you just realized something you never knew about before and it really resonated with you and you have a desire to share it with others.
If you have a story or an experience, share it. Other parents identify with real life stories. When there is a face and a story to go with a statistic, it “sticks” more readily. It makes more sense. It makes it real. Others can learn from you! It’s like sharing a really good and yummy recipe. Everyone gets to partake of the goodness!
So when you personally take action to make kids safer and learn about things you did not previously know about or understand as a danger, share it! You can be a safety hero, too! You could save countless lives. You could be the reason someone else’s child has the opportunity to grow up and do great things instead of being denied that chance due to a preventable accident.
What color will your cape be?