Children are breakable

We have all seen the videos.

A child runs into a wall, bounces off, smiles and runs away. Another child collides with a big dog, gets knocked flat, smiles and runs away. We think of children as pliant, resilient and very indestructible when it comes to immoveable objects. The darker side of childhood is the number of children that meet the interior of a vehicle at force multiplied by speed.

The child passenger safety technicians from Southern Ute Head Start and Southern Ute Police Department conducted more surveys recently. The results were worse.

We found that out that the adults were not protecting themselves. 73 percent of the drivers and 75 percent of the passengers at the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy were unbuckled. At Ignacio Elementary, 48 percent of the drivers and 31 percent of the passengers were unbuckled. Statewide in Colorado, the failure rate for buckling up is an average of 15 percent. If the adults don’t do well buckling up themselves, does it reflect in the care for their children?

Children protected by infant seats and forward facing car seats failed by 31 percent at the Academy and 42 percent at the Elementary School. The older children under eight in booster seats or over eight and seat belted failed by 94 percent at the Academy and 85 percent at the Elementary School.

Many things can be said about the failure rates. Many excuses can be given. Tribal law enforcement has heard all the excuses. “The weather was cold.” “We were only going a short distance.” “The speed limits were low.” “My child fights the car seat or cries when buckled.”

Excuses cannot protect in a crash. We witnessed several children sitting in the front seat in front of a live airbag. A deployed airbag can kill a child in a 5-mile an hour crash hitting a parked car. It does not take much to kill a child in a vehicle crash.

Over a thousand children under the age of 14 will die in a vehicle crash this year. Even seat belting a small child into the back seat, instead of a booster seat can severely injure a child. Booster seats are designed to work with a seatbelt to hold the belt across the two hardest parts of a young child’s body: the hips and the sternum. A plain seatbelt across a smaller child will allow a crash to slide the belt into their soft belly or across their neck and throat. The violence of a crash will leave a smaller child with permanent injuries or death. And no seat belt at all will usually result in death in just a moderate crash.

The Southern Ute Police Department would like for everyone to protect their children in the best possible ways. Child passenger safety seats are fairly inexpensive and they upgrade the designs regularly to protect children with the best science available. SUCAP Head Start is a car seat fitting station with low cost car seats available. Head Start has two technicians and the Southern Ute Police Department has one car seat technician. If anyone in the community needs help in installing car seats or questions about their fit and usage, Head Start can be reached at 970 563-4566, ext. 29 and the Southern Ute Police Department at 970-563-0246.


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