Steamboat Springs "Accident" is a widely used word, but it doesn't tell the whole story. If we stick with that word, it leaves us powerless to do anything about it.
The Centers for Disease Control reports the leading cause of death among children in Colorado is "unintentional injury and adverse effects."
The long list of what we commonly call accidents includes motor vehicle crashes, drowning, suffocation and burns.
Our former Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, is quoted as saying, "If our children were dying at this rate from a disease, we would be outraged."
So if we care about our children, then we need to do something about these preventable unintentional injuries.
We all remember our grandparents or parents handing down age-old wisdom such as, "Put that stick down, you're gonna poke an eye out." Or, "Get down from there, you'll fall and break your neck." These well-meant warnings alone are not enough to make a difference.
To break the cycle of events that causes injury, we must follow three avenues: engineering, enforcement and education.
An example of engineering is changing the slope of a path, resulting in lower speeds in an area of numerous in-line skating crashes.
Enforcement could mean a crackdown on people who tailgate or run red lights.
Finally, education could teach children how and when to dial 911 when a family member is sick or injured.
No one likes to see kids get injured.
We can all step up to the plate and do something about it. There are a multitude of resources available.
Let's use motor vehicle injuries as an example.
Engineering: Is there a particular curve that you have noticed that could use a guardrail, or a street that needs to be widened?
Enforcement: If you see an unrestrained child riding in a car, could you report the driver to the police?
Education: Hop on the www.boostamerica.com Web site to see why kids need to be in booster seats so their seatbelts fit properly.
Because I work for both the police and fire departments for the city of Steamboat Springs, I have the opportunity to be involved in the Yampa Valley Safety Village.
This new project is dedicated to teaching our children all facets of safety education. If you have an idea or have seen something that has worked in another community, call the proper agency in Routt County. You can make a difference.
We are always looking for new ways to teach children how to grow up and live safe. Remember, safety is no accident.
Shawn Zwak, C.S.O., is a Steamboat Springs firefighter, community service officer and father.