Media Release | Back to School Safety Tips

Media Release | Back to School Safety Tips

As thousands of students march back to school within the next few weeks, Safekids Aotearoa shares valuable safety messages, whether they are riding the car, cycling, scootering or walking to school.

Safekids Aotearoa also asks drivers to be extra vigilant in watching out for children on the road.

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Picking the right gift for family and friends can be quite challenging. Don’t leave the shopping till the last minute, Safekids Aotearoa, the injury prevention service of Starship Children’s Health, has gift recommendations to help keep loved ones safe this holiday and summer season.

“The coming season is unfortunately also called the Trauma Season, due to the dramatic increase in preventable deaths and serious injuries to children,” said Ann Weaver, Director of Safekids Aotearoa.

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Shopping for children’s gifts is a serious business. Not only do you need to think about what a child wants or needs, but you also need to weigh up the risks that could be attached to your choice.

Safekids Aotearoa, Energizer and Trading Standards (a unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) encourage adults to consider these six questions when buying gifts online or in store.

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Two‐thirds of AA Members are not sure when school‐age children should move from a booster seat to a normal seatbelt. This Friday the mandatory use of child restraints in vehicles will be extended by two years, with all children required to be correctly secured in an approved restraint until their seventh birthday – this includes booster seats.

However, regardless of their age, AA and child safety experts recommend that children stay in a booster seat until they reach 148cm in height. Seatbelts fit people who are 148cm and taller, which is why children need booster seats, raising them ‘up’ so that the adult size seatbelt fits them correctly.

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September is an exciting time for Kiwi families. Spring is in the air and Father’s Day is also celebrated this month. September however brings with it a number of injury risks‐‐one of the most serious is driveway run over injuries.  

“Every two weeks a child is hospitalised with serious injuries received from a vehicle driving on a private driveway in New Zealand. A further five children are killed annually, on average. Children at risk are aged between 1 and 3 years old,” said Ann Weaver, Director of Safekids Aotearoa.

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Child safety advocates today acknowledged that the new car seat law requiring kids to use an appropriate child restraint up to their 7th birthday is a positive step forward in keeping children safe on New Zealand roads.

However, Safekids Aotearoa, doctors and a family whose children survived a horror car crash thanks to booster seats, reminds parents that age 7 is not a magic number, and that primary school kids are safer in a booster seat until they are 148cm tall.

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With injuries skyrocketing, a new program will start in time for summer that promotes helmet use and a safe scooter culture for students travelling to and from school.  

According to Safekids’ position paper Child Skateboard and Scooter Injury Prevention, the rise in popularity of scootering has been coupled with a sharp increase in scooter-related injury. ACC claims data show that injuries have doubled every year since 2008—from just 697 claims that year to a staggering 6,474 in 2012. Many of these injuries were severe enough to land children in hospital.

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EVERY DAY in New Zealand about a classroom full of children (22) is admitted to hospital because of unintentional injuries or accidents. For young children (birth to 4
years old) most of these injuries happen in the home environment. Media stories have reported injuries with serious or fatal consequences to children: being burned by fire; injured playing in a parked car; swallowing button batteries, high powered magnets and cleaning chemicals; and crushed by large flat screen TVs. 

“Young children are injured more at home because they spend more time there, particularly in winter. This is why keeping a safe home environment where children can grow and learn is important,” said Safekids Aotearoa Director Ann Weaver. 

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The United Nations (UN) Global Road Safety Week is 6‐12 May 2013. Safekids Aotearoa and FedEx are asking everyone to help make the week child fatality‐free by doing a ‘Long Short Walk’.  

According to the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 5,000 pedestrians are killed on the world’s roads each week. Many of those killed are children walking to and from schools. In New Zealand, an average of eight child pedestrians die every year, and a further 107 children are injured severely enough to be hospitalised.  

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The announcement today raising the mandatory age for child restraints will protect the most vulnerable members of our community-- children up to seven years old.
16 children a year are killed and 5 a week are hospitalised as a result of injuries they receive as passengers in motor vehicles in New Zealand. Under the current law, children up to the age of five must be placed in a children restraint such as a booster seat. 

The new law will require children up to the age of seven to be placed in a restraint, while those aged between seven and eight have to use one if it is available.

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