Parents and children in the Clatsop County area are invited to a North Coast SAFE KIDS event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Columbia Memorial Hospital parking lot this Saturday. The event includes information on car seats, bike safety, fire prevention, firearm safety and water safety and is aimed at showing parents how to set a good example of safe behavior for their children. The event is timed to coincide with National SAFE KIDS Week.

Tara Constantine, a spokeswoman for North Coast SAFE KIDS, said a recent study found that while 98 percent of parents agree it is important to act as safety role models for their children, the percentage of parents who report actually practicing safe behaviors is often lower. In addition, children with parents whose actions reinforce their words appear more likely to practice safe behaviors, she said.

"It is as important to 'walk the walk' as it is to 'talk the talk' when it comes to keeping children safe," according to Constantine. "Wearing a life jacket, a bike helmet or a seat belt, and crossing streets at crosswalks are easy ways to keep kids safe. Parents can talk about how important it is, but if they aren't doing it themselves their kids aren't likely to either."

The study shows parents do a good job of stressing the importance of safety belt use with their children and being good examples by wearing safety belts themselves (86 percent say they always do). This may explain near-universal safety belt use among children - 91 percent of children say they always wear a safety belt, Constantine said.

But the research shows that parents are much less successful at being good role models for their children in other key safety areas, such as wearing a bike helmet, wearing a life jacket and safely crossing busy streets. It is important for parents to understand the risks related to these activities as well, she said.

For example:

• Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14.

• Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile.

• Pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14.

For more information or for a copy of Follow the Leader: A National Study of Safety Role Modeling Among Parents and Children, contact North Coast SAFE KIDS at (503) 325-2345 or visit www.safekids.org.

North Coast SAFE KIDS is part of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury - the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 300 state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico make up the campaign.

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