Healthy Living in the North

Everyday superheroes make the difference!

Mickey Mouse pin

“While it is great to see famous characters using the gear and demonstrating safe behaviours, we only need to look at the people around us, in our own homes and communities, to realize who the real famous people are in our children’s lives.”

Recently, I saw a pin with Mickey Mouse skateboarding. Visible on this tiny pin, Mickey had all the safety gear: knee pads, elbow pads, and, most importantly, a helmet. Even Mickey Mouse knows injuries are preventable!

This year’s Safe Kids Week, celebrated June 5-11, focuses on promoting safe and active transportation: walking, biking, and wheeling (which includes skateboarding, scootering, and other wheeled activities). The campaign, called “Everyday Superhero”, got me thinking about that Mickey Mouse pin.

While it is great to see famous characters using the gear and demonstrating safe behaviours, we only need to look at the people around us, in our own homes and communities, to realize who the real famous people are in our children’s lives.

Studies tell us that parents, aunties, uncles, friends, and neighbours have a far greater influence on the safety behaviours of our children. These are the everyday superheroes who can make a difference!

You won’t catch Mickey Mouse without a helmet, and Goofy doesn’t text and cross the street, but do you?

  • Do you always wear a helmet?
  • Do you put your phone away when walking or crossing the street?
  • Do you wear the right safety gear for the wheeled activity?

Join Northern Health and participate in Safe Kids Week. Our capes are invisible, but we are all everyday superheroes to the kids in our lives.

Parachute Safe Kids Week banner

Amy Da Costa

About Amy Da Costa

Amy Da Costa has worked in Public Health for 12 years. She recently joined the Population Health team as a part-time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention. Amy lives in Kitimat with her husband and two children. They like to camp, swim, and cook as a family.

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We all have a role to play in safety!

Looking for easy to understand information on keeping children safe?

The Parachute Canada website is not just for me to use in my work as an Injury Prevention Lead. It is for me as a parent, as an auntie, and as a community member! And it’s for you! When you have a few minutes, check it out! And what better time than Safe Kids Week?

Safety at home

As kids grow, the hazards change. Did you know that falls are the number one cause of injury in the home? Don’t let their first roll be off the change table. Get tips for safety at home!

Parachute Canada poster

Safety at play

When seasons change, the sport activity changes. Any jarring force to the body or head that causes the brain to knock against the skull can cause concussion. Would you know what to do? Get tips for safety at play!

Parachute Canada poster

Safety on the road

Always use the correct car seat or booster seat on every ride, even short trips close to home. When was the last time you checked to see if the seat you use is meeting the growing needs of your child? Get tips for safety on the road!

Parachute Canada poster

The Parachute Canada website is for everyone. We all have a role to play in safety!

Amy Da Costa

About Amy Da Costa

Amy Da Costa has worked in Public Health for 12 years. She recently joined the Population Health team as a part-time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention. Amy lives in Kitimat with her husband and two children. They like to camp, swim, and cook as a family.

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Preventing injuries at home, at play, and on the road: Safe Kids Week 2016

Safe Kids Week poster

The 20th anniversary of Safe Kids Week is all about preventing injuries at home, at play, and on the road!

The warm, sunny days of spring invite us to go outside. Playgrounds fill, bikes are dusted off, and road hockey games are happening in every neighborhood. I love the feeling of freedom that spring brings. As much as I enjoy winter activities, by the time the snow begins to melt, I am eager to hike in the woods on a warm dirt path rather than a frozen one!

This is what I’m thinking as I read the newly released Chief Medical Health Officer’s Health Status Report on Child Health by Northern Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Sandra Allison. Reading the report, I see my family reflected as part of the larger northern community: “Living in the North,” the report finds, “presents both amazing opportunities and complex challenges for children and families.” We have the great resource of wide open spaces along with some unique obstacles that we face as a region. As a northerner, I do feel connected to my environment and the opportunity that each season presents. I think of my kids, who particularly like counting the worms we come across in our garden!

With these new spring activities starting up again comes the risk of kids being injured as they explore the season. Falls from learning to ride a bike, an inviting lake that is too enticing to ignore, and the start of a new sport all have the potential of injury for a child. My family, like all families, works hard to keep everyone safe but the risk of injury is still present. Injuries are predictable and preventable. In my family, for example, we spend a lot of time teaching our children the rules of the road while cycling.

To help us all keep our kids safe, from May 30 – June 5, Parachute Canada is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Safe Kids Week. This celebration brings awareness to the risk of injury in childhood. Parachute’s Safe Kids Week will highlight ways to keep our kids safe:

  • At home (looking to prevent burns, poisoning, falls, and water injuries)
  • At play (looking to prevent concussions and sports & recreation injuries)
  • On the road (safety on bicycles, in motor vehicles, and as pedestrians)

Did you know that in Northern Health’s region, the leading causes of injury for children and youth are motor vehicle crashes and falls? As a mother of two, this is not just a statistic, but a reminder of the preventable risks to my own family. It’s also a call to action. Join me in celebrating Safe Kids Week in the North. Take some time to check out Parachute Canada’s Safe Kids Week 2016 website and create a way to get involved in your community.

Safe Kids Week banner

How can you prevent childhood injuries in your community?

Natasha Thorne

About Natasha Thorne

After many years in southern B.C., Natasha was drawn back to her hometown of Prince George in 2006 by the lure of extended family, sub-boreal forests, and raising her babes exploring the backwoods of her own childhood. Whether nose in a book or in real life, Natasha is an aspiring world traveller planning overseas vacations so she and her husband can give their two children a wider perspective of living in today's global community. As the full time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention for Northern Health, Natasha is committed to the north and is passionate about supporting the health and well-being of northerners.

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Getting ready for Safe Kids Week 2016: Highlighting preventable injuries

Girl wearing life-jacket at the beach.

2016 is the 20th anniversary of Safe Kids Week! Community toolkits to support local events will be released by Parachute Canada on April 18, 2016.

You wouldn’t know it by looking outside at the driving rain that is pouring down my office window, but at the end of March, northwest B.C. saw some of the warmest weather in history. Warm spring weather always sets the stage for another great season of outdoor activity and play.

With lots of new outdoor activities available to us, spring is also a great time of year to talk about childhood injuries. Injuries are the leading cause of death for children and are a leading cause of hospitalizations. Injuries don’t happen by accident. They occur in repetitive and predictable patterns; injuries are preventable.

You may think I’m putting a damper on the enjoyment of the season, but awareness is a form of prevention! The real tragedy is when fun is affected by the serious injury of a loved one. We can change the statistics.

Parachute is a national charitable organization dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives in Canada. From May 30 – June 5, 2016, Parachute Canada will be celebrating 20 years of injury prevention awareness for children and families through Safe Kids Week. This year, Safe Kids Week will be raising awareness and sharing information to prevent injuries:

  • At home (burns, poisoning, falls, water)
  • At play (concussions, falls)
  • On the road (bicycles, motor vehicles, pedestrians)

I hope that you’ll join me in saving the date! Community Toolkits for this year’s Safe Kids Week will be available from the Parachute Canada Safe Kids Week website on April 18, 2016. Order your toolkit and join Northern Health as we work together to keep our children safe!

Our winter seasons are long in the north, so taking the time each spring to review safe activity and play with our families is worth it!

Amy Da Costa

About Amy Da Costa

Amy Da Costa has worked in Public Health for 12 years. She recently joined the Population Health team as a part-time Regional Nursing Lead for Injury Prevention. Amy lives in Kitimat with her husband and two children. They like to camp, swim, and cook as a family.

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Safe Kids Week wrap-up: Safety tips for cyclists

The 2v1 rule ensures a proper and safe fit for helmets. Your helmet should rest a 2 finger distance above your eyebrows, the strap should make a V under your ears, and you should be able to fit only one finger between the strap and your chin.

The 2v1 rule ensures a proper and safe fit for helmets. Your helmet should rest a 2 finger distance above your eyebrows, the strap should make a V under your ears, and you should be able to fit only one finger between the strap and your chin.

Cycling can be a fun and active way to spend time with your kids. It’s even more fun when you’re doing so safely. Parachute encourages parents and caregivers to be role models for cycling safety by follow these important yet simple steps:

  • Protect Your Head, Wear a Helmet: A properly fitted and correctly worn bike helmet can make a dramatic difference, cutting the risk of serious head injury by up to 80%. Use the 2v1 rule for helmet fitting.
  • Check Your Ride: Ensure bikes are adjusted to the recommended height for the rider, tires are inflated and brakes are working properly.
  • Be Prepared: Get trained in bicycle safety and the rules of the road, use appropriate hand signals and obey all traffic signs.
  • Pick Family-Friendly Routes: Use designated areas for riding when available.
  • Ride in Well-Lit Areas: Be sure your bike has reflectors and lights if planning to ride in low-lit areas.
  • Pick the Right Side of the Road: Tell your kids to ride on the right side of the road, the same direction that traffic is going, and to stay as far right as possible.
  • Use Your Bell: Ensure your bike is equipped with a bell to announce when passing. If not, use your voice!
Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Thinking about kids’ safety

Graphic that reads: helmets reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by up to 80%

Each year in Canada, preventable injuries cause 13,000 deaths, 60,000 disabilities and 3 million emergency room visits. Safe Kids Week is a great chance to ask ourselves what we can do to lower those numbers and prevent tragic injuries and death.

“Let’s be careful out there.” This mantra, going back to the 1980s police drama Hill Street Blues, resonates to this day. Consider that preventable injuries kill more Canadian children than any single disease and kill more youth than all other causes combined. Each year in Canada, preventable injuries cause 13,000 deaths, 60,000 disabilities and 3 million emergency room visits.

These figures come from Parachute, a national non-profit organization that describes itself as dedicated to preventing injury and saving lives through education and advocacy. It is also behind Safe Kids Week, which kicks off today and runs from May 4-10. This annual event strives to make us more aware of the frequency and severity of preventable childhood injuries. This year’s theme focuses on cycling and road safety.

Staying safe is an important message to communicate with children. What better way than to start with parents who are role models who influence the behaviours of their children. After all, why wear a helmet on the bike when mom doesn’t? Why stop at intersections if dad seems to just roll through?

There are a number of messages and recommendations aligned with the message of Safe Kids Week, starting with protecting your head. Wear a helmet! It should fit properly and be worn as designed because that protection cuts the risk of serious head injury by up to 80%!

Bikes should fit the kid. Make sure that your child’s bike is the right size for them, that the tires are properly inflated and the brakes work as intended. This is a great way to involve children in maintenance and awareness and it’s fun for them, too. It also helps if your child knows about the rules of the road and understands bicycle safety. Even a four-year-old can learn to stop and look before crossing a road and know to gear up before riding (even if they’re too young to be crossing the road alone).

Parent with a helmet adjusting their child's helmet. Text reads: Be a good "roll" model.

How can you be a good role model for kids? Do you wear a helmet? Obey the rules of the road?

Part of knowing the rules of the road includes knowing to ride on the right side, in the same direction as traffic, but also to stay as far right as possible. And kids should have a bell to announce their presence, especially when they are passing.

Though not a focus of the Parachute Safe Kids Week this year, we also include trampolines for special attention. A recent study by the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit of children admitted to BC Children’s Hospital found trampoline-related injuries occurred at a rate of 14.1 per 1,000 cases treated at BC Children’s Hospital emergency department (no other hospital was tracked).

Of the injuries identified as trampoline-related, fractures were the most common, followed by bruises and abrasions and sprains. The most likely points of injury were the ankle, elbow and head.

Sure, trampolines can be dangerous, but we realize they are also a lot of fun. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid injury. Safety increases with smart use: limit trampolines to one person at a time; don’t jump onto or off of the trampoline; avoid flips and somersaults which can lead to over-extension of the cervical spine. Active adult supervision is also important.

Summer is a great time to be a kid and helping them to be safe can mean that it will all be fun and games!

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team with a passion for health and wellness. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found on her rural property with her family of happy, healthy huskies.

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Safe Kids Week 2015: Cycling and road safety

RCMP officer and youth wearing helmets on skateboards.

This year, Safe Kids Week is looking at cycling and road safety with an emphasis on helmets, safe road users, and parents as role models. Look for safety events happening in your community or inspire others and organize an event of your own!

I’m so happy when I see children pulling into school grounds, parks and friends’ houses on their bikes, skateboards and scooters. Who among us can’t identify with the exhilaration of the wind whipping at your face as you pedal and push your way along the streets? The freedom of the open road – there’s nothing quite like it.

Recognizing that children are particularly vulnerable road users and knowing that injuries are the leading cause of death and disability to children, this year Parachute’s Safe Kids Week is promoting awareness of cycling and road safety across Canada. Please take a moment to consider and plan for how you and your community can join in this national campaign running May 4-10, 2015.

This year’s Safe Kids Week theme will focus on:

  • Helmets
  • Safe road users such as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians
  • Parents as role models and influencers

Parachute can support your community Safe Kids Week activities. Check out their website for many great resources including an online toolkit, a backgrounder on cycling and road safety, and an event guide.

Longboarders

Make sure that your children cultivate a love not only for physical activity and the outdoors, but for enjoying these activities safely!

Bodies are made to move and regular physical activity is critical to healthy child development. Every time a child steps out onto a street or sidewalk with family and friends, abilities are tested and realized, memories are made. Encouraging and building on a love for walking, running, biking and skateboarding safely and without injury are priceless gifts to our children. Join us in promoting cycling and road safety in your community by participating in Safe Kids Week 2015. For more information, please visit Parachute and preventable.ca.

Denise Foucher

About Denise Foucher

Denise is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about working towards health and wellness for everyone in Northern B.C. When not at work, Denise can be found out at the lake, walking her dog, planning her next travel adventure, or snuggled in a cozy chair with a good book.

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Safe Kids Week 2013

Bike riding with helmets

Get out there, have fun and play hard! Safe Kids Week is a good time to remember to know the risks, wear the gear and play safe – all the time!

I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing when many people hear the term ‘injury prevention,’ they think boring, rules, gear, barriers to fun, walk don’t run – all sorts of connotations that don’t have anything to do with getting out there, having fun, and playing hard! The reality is, the main focus in preventing injuries isn’t about more rules, more legislation, more barriers to fun or anything like that…for now, it’s about more awareness. Don’t get me wrong, we have rules and regulations for a reason, and they are an important piece of the puzzle in helping us prevent certain types of injuries. But you can’t prevent much of anything if you don’t know there’s a risk of it happening in the first place, which brings us back to awareness.

That’s one of the reasons why the theme for this year’s Safe Kids Week is “Heads Up! Be Alert. Be Safe. Be Aware of Concussions.” Thanks to the media focusing on big names like Sidney Crosby, it seems like everyone knows he’s at risk for concussions. But how many people think that an 11-year-old soccer player is at risk too? The key things to think about during this year’s Safe Kids Week, which runs from May 27-June 2, are these:

  • Concussions can happen to anyone.
  • Concussions are often underdiagnosed and under-treated because the symptoms can be hard to recognize.
  • Concussions can have long-term effects.
  • Good concussion management (including both physical and emotional rest) decreases the risk of permanent brain damage.

So, in the words of preventable.ca,

Before you think only pro-athletes get concussions, have a word with yourself.

And in the words of me, get out there, have more fun, play hard…just know the risks, wear the gear and play safe so you can do it again next time!

For more information and resources about concussion awareness and prevention, visit the Safe Kids Canada webpage or preventable’s concussion campaign webpage.

Local contact information and more resources or ideas on how to promote injury prevention in your community can be found on the NH Injury Prevention webpage.

Lynette Hewitt

About Lynette Hewitt

Lynette Hewitt works in Fort St. John as an Injury Prevention Coordinator for Northern Health. After receiving a BScN from UNBC, Lynette traveled a bit, then returned to her hometown of Fort St. John where she worked in med/surg, public health nursing, and home nursing care before settling into her current role. When not at work, she is trying to keep up with life as a busy wife and mom, which may or may not include time for snowshoeing, hiking, biking, camping, fishing, geocaching and, for a few short months, gardening!

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