Hopi Injury Prevention Coalition encourages child passenger safety
The Hopi Injury Prevention Coalition (HIPC) is a community based multi-disciplinary group of individuals who want to reduce the number of severe injuries on the Hopi Reservation. Recently, the HIPC promoted child passenger safety at the Mass Screening Event for Early Childhood Programs, held at the Hopi Veterans Center on Aug. 13. During the event, about 43 families received some form of technical assistance in the area of child passenger safety:
Parents with an existing car seat or booster seat were offered a free car-seat-fit-check for their child;
About eight children received a car-seat-fit-check from a certified child passenger safety technician in order to make sure that the child's seat was being used properly. Only two of the eight checks resulted in no changes to the seat or it's fit;
A limited number of free car seats and booster seats were available for distribution.
Some Head Start students in need of a child safety seat were given a free seat. A child passenger safety technician showed the child's parents how to install the seat and how to achieve the proper fit. Eleven children were given a new seat. Only three of the 11 children had a seat prior to the event.
Parents who were in need of a free car seat or booster seat for their child and were unable to get one at this event because of the limited number available were referred to the Navajo County Prenatal & Injury Prevention Program.
Residents of Navajo county are eligible to attend a free class on child passenger safety by appointment and families in need of a car seat or booster seat can get a free seat for their child by attending the class.
About 22 families reported either not having a car seat or not having the right type of car seat for at least one child and filled out a referral form for this service.
A local injury problem
Injuries from motor vehicle crashes are a problem on the Hopi Reservation. Surveillance conducted by the Indian Health Service Office of Environmental Health for the years 1995 through 2000 identified motor vehicle crashes as the second leading cause of severe injury among severe injury cases triaged through the Hopi Health Care Center. During the six-year time period, 96 individuals went through the Hopi Health Care Center for an injury due to a motor vehicle crash that resulted in hospitalization or death. That averages out to 16 severe injuries per year from motor vehicle crashes.
In 2006 the state of Arizona reported the leading cause of death for American Indians, all ages, on the Hopi Reservation was injury (20 deaths) and motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of injury death (10 deaths).
According to the clinical director at Hopi Health Care Center, in 2007 there were four motor vehicle crashes on Hopi in which half of the children were unrestrained and had to be flown from the scene of the crash. The other half were found to be restrained but with improper installation of the child restraint. Head injuries were the most common injury in these crashes.
Keep Our Future Safe
Using seat belts and child safety seats is the easiest and single most effective means of reducing injuries in motor vehicle crashes. Seat belts and child safety seats protect health and save lives. They firmly restrain occupants inside the vehicle during a crash, preventing them from being ejected and from hitting the inside of the vehicle and other occupants.
You should always wear your seatbelt. Children 12 and under should always ride properly secured in the back seat - even when traveling short distances. Crashes are unexpected and can happen at any moment - close to home, on your way to work, or while driving children to activities.
Contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician
Studies report that between 80 and 85 percent of child safety seats are not used correctly. Proper installation and use of a child safety seat can be confusing with all of the different vehicles and safety seats on the market. In an effort to address this problem, several individuals from local agencies/departments have become nationally certified child passenger safety technicians. Over a dozen technicians are available on Hopi to help you with the correct installation of your child's car seat or booster seat.
Choose the Right Seat
It is important to choose a child safety seat that fits tightly in your vehicle and is appropriate for your child's age, height and weight. Always read the child safety seat instruction manual. Read your vehicle owner's manual seat belt and child seat installation section. If the child safety seat is not used properly your child will not be fully protected in a crash. Over a dozen technicians are available on Hopi to help you with the correct installation of your child's safety seat.
Buckle Up! It's the law.
Did you know that the Hopi Tribe has adopted the Arizona Revised Statute 28-907? This statute states that a person shall not operate a motor vehicle on highways when transporting a child under five years of age unless that child is properly secured in a child passenger restraint system. This is a primary enforcement law, which means that the police can pull you over if you do not have your child properly buckled up.