TOPEKA — Wichita, Overland Park and Topeka took part today in a Spot the Tot event. Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC), with support from Safe Kids Kansas, sponsored this event to remind everyone about the dangers of blind zones around vehicles, from small passenger cars and SUVs, to ambulances.
All vehicles, large and small, have a blind zone. However, in that rush to get to the store before it closes, the focus of the driver may not be on what is hidden around the vehicle. Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) and Safe Kids Kansas encourage anyone driving a vehicle to take a five-second walk completely around it to check for children before putting the vehicle into gear. This applies even to drivers who do not have children but may have kids in the neighborhood.
In 2007, it is estimated that there were 5,000 injuries and 205 deaths to children under age 14 as a result of being hit by a vehicle in a driveway or parking area in the United States. These incidences are known as “backovers” or “frontovers,” depending on direction. “We believe these injuries and deaths are preventable as too many result from a driver not seeing children who might be playing, running toward or standing near their vehicle,” says Cherie Sage, State Director of Safe Kids Kansas. “What is truly tragic about these stories is that often, the drivers are friends or even family members.”
“Emergency vehicles have large blind zones and are often in residential neighborhoods,” said Sarah House, State Program Manager for EMSC. “Flashing lights and sirens can be alluring; however, emergency personnel are primarily focused on their job and may not see children or adults in their vehicle’s blind zone.” While thankfully there are not a large number of cases in the United States of children or adults being struck by emergency vehicles, the risk is high. For safety, emergency vehicles should only be approached in educational settings, and not on the scene of an incident.
Parents, caregivers and drivers can follow these tips to help make sure that children remain safe around vehicles:
· Before getting behind the wheel, walk all the way around the parked vehicle to make sure children are not under or around it before you put it into gear.
· Ensure that young children are always accompanied by an adult when getting in and out of a vehicle.
· Identify a safe play area for children to use far away from parked or moving vehicles.
· Identify a safe spot for children to go when nearby vehicles are about to move. Young children should be supervised to ensure they do not chase after a moving vehicle.
· When walking near moving vehicles, in driveways, in parking lots, or on sidewalks – make sure to firmly hold the hand of each child that is with you.
· Avoid using driveways as play areas if moving cars have access entering or exiting these areas.
· Teach children to keep a safe distance from emergency vehicles when not in an educational setting such as a field trip or health fair.
· Pay close attention to backup cameras or sensors, available in many vehicles. If your vehicle does not have this feature, consider purchasing an after-market product to assist in visibility.
“No matter how important it is at that moment for you to get to your destination on time,” says Sage, “taking a five-second walk around your car to make sure that children are not in harm’s way could save your family and your child from a lifetime of physical and emotional pain and loss.”