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Safe Kids Campaign Warns Against Summertime Dangers

Aired May 3, 2001 - 10:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We take you now to Washington, D.C. This is an event talking about summertime safety for kids. It's a great time of year, but it's also the most dangerous for kids. This warning now, from a national organization. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

HEATHER PAUL, SAFE KIDS CAMPAIGN: ... we know a lot about family pools and natural bodies of water, and we'll hear more about this a little bit later.

In addition to the deaths we see every summer, there are also countless injuries that take enormous toll on children themselves, on their families, as well as the health care system. And before our summer vacation ends this year, unfortunately, unless things change drastically, we could see the death of 2,500 more children. And they are embodied here today in the form of these teddy bears.

You will hear from Felicia Rainey (ph), whose young son's life was lost to one of these tragedies. And one of these teddy bears, indeed, stands for the death of her son.

Our goal in studying the seasonality of injury is to just make clear exactly how important it is to protect our children when so many of these deaths are happening between May and August. And what are the reasons? They're drownings, motor vehicles, pedestrian deaths, bike crashes when children suffer head trauma, and falls.

And this study that we are announcing today asked a number of questions: How much more dangerous are these risks during the summer months? Are children at certain ages more at risk than other kids? And finally, are there certain regions of the country where certain deaths happen more prevalently?

To answer these questions, I'm very proud to introduce our next speaker, Dr. C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general, who has stood with us since the beginning of our campaign, now 13 years ago. And Dr. Koop himself, not only being a foremost advocate for public health, but as a pediatric surgeon, as a professional and as a father he has experienced these tragedies firsthand -- Dr. Koop.

(APPLAUSE)

C. EVERETT KOOP, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, thank you very much, Heather.

Today we celebrate, once again, the launch of another Safe Kids Week. And we are encouraged by the progress we have made, but we also know that there's a lot more still to be done. The epidemic we talk about continues to kill and permanently disable America's children at an alarming rate.

Throughout this study that Heather told you about, Safe Kids found out that unintentional injuries peaked dramatically during the summer months. Also, that nearly half of all unintentional-injury- related deaths occurred during the months of May through August, that's a 25 percent increase above average. July happens to be the deadliest month of the year, perhaps because it's the first full month out of school; but almost one out of every eight deaths occurs during the month of July alone.

We also analyzed emergency department data from Safe Kids coalitions in seven different cities across the country. And we found that, in cities with greater variation in their seasons from hot to cold, we saw more pronounced peaks during the May-August period. For example, in Hartford, Connecticut, where it's cold a good part of the year, emergency department visits increased 24 percent above average during the summer months while, at the same time in Phoenix, Arizona, where the warm temperatures exist all around the year, the unintentional injury rose only 5 percent above normal in the summer.

Nevertheless, we cannot accept these injuries as just accidents that will happen. If a disease were killing our children at the rate that unintentional injuries are, the public would be unbelievably outraged and demand that this killer be stopped.

Now, I say this figuratively speaking, but we do have a vaccine that could stop this epidemic in its tracks. And Safe Kids has been at the forefront of a national grassroots movement to stop this killer. But we at Safe Kids certainly can't do this alone. Government leaders, corporate America, parents and caregivers, volunteers and grassroots organizations, like our more than 300 Safe Kids coalitions around the country, all must play a vital role.

Together, we need to do several things: first of all, give more safety devices such as bike helmets, car seats and lifejackets to families who are in need. We have to create safer roads by building bike paths, sidewalks and speed reduction measures to protect our children. We have to increase the number of pools that have four- sided isolation fencing. We have to continue to pass and enforce child safety laws, including bike helmet, personal flotation device and children restraint use.

Parents, let me say a word to you: Regardless of your child's age, it is your ultimate responsibility to supervise your child around water and to make sure that they wear lifejackets when they're around boats. Ensure that they wear helmets whenever they're biking or skating or scooting. Buckle them up properly in every single car ride, and supervise them crossing the street if they're under 10 and be certain that you teach older children the rules of street safety. Make sure their playgrounds are safe and have appropriate surfacing. Two very recent Safe Kids polls confirm that kids underestimate the dangers of the summer season and most of them, of course, think that their parents worry too much about their getting hurt. In addition to that, many parents are putting their kids at risk unknowingly; for examples, the poll found that 33 percent of parents said they would allow a child under the age of eight to ride a bike without supervision.

A word to children: Let me tell you, kids, we want you to be active, we want to you get outdoors and enjoy the summer, but you need to wear your protective gear and to take charge of your safety, too. Parents and caregivers have another responsibility: Regardless of your child's age you should provide them with the proper safety device and supervision in how to use it.

Together, I am convinced we will battle this killer not just for one week in the summer in Washington, but throughout the year in order to make all kids safe all year.

I'm now very proud to present our next speaker, my close friend, who's...

KAGAN: We've been listening to former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. He is there along with the National Safe Kids Campaign in Washington, D.C., talking about a very dangerous time of a year for kids, and that is summertime. A happy time, because they're out of school, but supervision being a problem. They're announcing that, if statistics remain the same, 2,500 children across the U.S. will die in the three summer months, July being the deadliest month of the year. Things like drownings, pedestrian accidents, motor vehicle accidents -- and the former surgeon general pointing out there really is no replacement for parental supervision and safety devices like helmets, safer pools and more fencing around pools and safer roads as well.

We'll have more on this later in the morning.

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