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School’s Out Part 1: Summer Safety for Kids | #schoolsaftey

This week VashonBePrepared starts a new series of summer safety tips — covering everything from driving to bicycling, roadside walking, water safety, and being smart around recreational fires.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 7,000 children and teens died from unintentional injuries in 2019 (the most recent year with published data). Leading causes included car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls. This week we’re covering car and bicycle safety.

Cars pose the greatest risk of injury. Sadly, by adulthood, many of us know of someone who has died or had their life ruined by a vehicle accident. Here are topics to cover this week with your kids:

  • Make a safe-driving contract with teens and new drivers.
  • Buckle up – everyone in cars should always wear a seat belt. Seat belts reduce traffic deaths by about half.
  • Drive sober – no drugs, no alcohol.
  • Stay focused – eliminate all distractions such as talking or texting on cell phones, eating while driving, and setting up car navigation screens or stereos. Pull over if you need to talk, text, or map your route.
  • Be familiar with your vehicle – know how to use turn signals, hazard lights, and windshield wipers.

Find more information for parents on keeping teens safe here.

Riding bicycles on roads means interacting with traffic. A mishap can turn deadly, so take some steps to prevent injury and accidents.

  • Wear a snug, well-fitting bicycle helmet.
  • Adjust the bicycle to fit the current rider.
  • Inflate tires to the correct pressure; test brakes.
  • Wear neon or other bright-colored clothing (white isn’t as good). To be seen, consider mounting a white light on the front and a flashing red light on the back of your bike.
  • Avoid riding at night, but if you do, use a headlight and tail light. Wear reflective clothing.
  • Keep at least one hand on the handlebars – use panniers or a backpack to carry cargo.
  • Develop good bicycle-handling skills, such as stopping safely on gravel or dodging obstacles. Cascade Bicycle Club offers classes: cascade.org/learn.

Find more information and tips here.

Gadget Moment: Reflectors and Other Bright Things for Safety

It’s a basic safety rule for bike riders and roadside walkers: display lights or reflectors to help be seen on the road.

As we noted above, being safe means being seen. Just because you can see a car, doesn’t mean the driver can see you, especially when a vehicle is moving at highway speeds.

Do something to be shiny and reflective — front white and flashing rear lights, bright-colored neon vests with reflectors, tires with reflective sidewalls, and bright-colored helmets. Consider reflective socks, shoes, pedals, stickers, and bands. That’s just a short list, so for more ideas check out bicycle shops and hardware stores, sports equipment stores, or online retailers.

You’ll find many options to help you and your kids be seen and safe.

CERT Readiness Training

Our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trains frequently so the 70 volunteers will be ready to help the community in an emergency.

At a recent Saturday morning session, participants circled up for a “hot wash” after a training drill on setting up and operating a command post. They’d use the post to support community needs such as island-wide damage assessments, community information, first aid, and more.

The post-exercise “hot wash” discussion facilitates continuous improvement. Team members share lessons from the exercise while the experience is still fresh in their minds. They discuss how performance can be improved next time.

If you’d like to be part of the team, the first basic CERT course since the pandemic has been scheduled for eight weekends, starting in mid-September. You can get more info here.

New COVID Booster in Planning Stages

A panel of expert advisors to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has unanimously recommended that the next COVID vaccine should target newer variants of the virus.

The panel advises that pharmaceutical companies develop an updated monovalent vaccine that targets Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5. This would replace the current bivalent vaccine, which targets the original COVID strain and Omicron subvariants BA.4/5.

Studies have shown that COVID vaccinations reduce the risk of hospitalization and death, as well as long COVID. There are several more steps ahead before final decisions will be made, but the expectation is that updated COVID booster vaccinations will be offered in the fall.

COVID Basic Risk

VashonBePrepared’s risk level tool is based mostly on COVID hospitalization rates. Some other factors are also evaluated, including COVID virus levels in wastewater in our region.

At the Basic Risk Level, it is recommended to wear an N95 mask indoors in public if you are exposed to COVID or at risk for health or other reasons, or live with or spend time with someone at high risk.

Keep vaccinations up to date, including boosters. Maintain good ventilation at home and at work, and avoid those with suspected or confirmed COVID.

If exposed to COVID, wear a mask in public and avoid contact with those at high risk for 10 days.

Always home-test if you have symptoms. If you test positive, isolate for at least five days and until you test negative. If immunocompromised, discuss additional prevention actions with your healthcare provider.

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