Montana has the highest child and teen death rates in the United States according to a recent study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Currently, Montana ranks 47th in the nation for overall child health and these statistics clearly show how we are lagging behind the rest of the country in health indicators like insurance rates, obesity and death rates.
The leading cause for preventable death in Montana children and teens is motor vehicle crashes and suicide. The most recent Montana death statistics from 2015 showed 103 deaths and of those, 76 were considered preventable.
Because of these alarming statistics Lincoln County Public Health wants to advise and remind parents and kids of some preventative measures to take to avoid an accident, injury, or an unexpected death.
Parents, please remind your kids this summer to:
- Wear a seat belt every time they are in a car or ATV
- Wear a helmet when riding bicycles, skateboards, horses, ATVs, or roller-skates
- Wear a properly fitting lifejacket when on the water, particularly swift moving currents like big rivers or streams, and always when in boats or rafts
- Never swim alone
- Never jump off of cliffs, ledges, or bridges into bodies of water
- Never use firearms without adult supervision
- Never light fires without adult supervision
- Never ride in vehicles or ATVs with anyone who is intoxicated
- Never consume or use substances like drugs, alcohol, or tobacco
- Use good judgment and be smart!
Tips for parents:
- Inform your kids of emergency contact numbers like 911 or poison control: 1-800-222-1222
- Keep all firearms in the home unloaded and locked at all times
- Never leave children in a hot car
- Be vigilant about your children’s whereabouts and require that they check in periodically
- Ensure all medications and prescription pills are locked up
- Teach your kids about “stranger danger”
- Set curfews for your kids that are age appropriate for your family
- Talk to your teenagers about safe sex practices
- Pay attention to your child’s emotions and if you suspect depression or suicide, reach out for help IMMEDIATELY!
- Teach kids about bicycle safety and “rules of the road”
- Make an emergency exit plan in the event of a house fire or other home disaster
- Remind your kids to eat healthy and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
- Exercise is good! Encourage your kids to get away from their screens and outside for some activity
For Kids, if you are bored this summer and need something to do, consider the following for safe activities:
- Join the gym
- Go to the park
- Enroll in a summer camp/Summer school
- Visit the library
- Get a sports group together
- Get a part-time job
- Visit the Community Garden
- Go to the museum
The time for prevention is not after an accident has occurred. By taking a few extra minutes to properly explain, teach, and prepare your children for a safe and healthy summer, you can avoid potentially devastating consequences.
Please invest in your children’s safety and have the talk about safety measures that could save their life.
For community resources or more information, contact Public Health Nurse, Riley Black at (406) 283-2447.