Buckle Up

Teens more likely to die in cars

A national traffic safety campaign targets teen vehicle safety this Memorial Day weekend. Addressing a specific group might be a good way to reach the entire traveling populace.

Hood River Police have received a federal grant, via Oregon Department of Transportation, to place special emphasis this weekend on enforcing seat belt use.

For many teens, a driver’s license is a ticket to freedom. No more car pools. No more pick-ups and drop-offs at school. No more dates with chaperones behind the wheel. But tragically for too many teens, a license is also a ticket to an early death.

“Caught in a lethal intersection of inexperience, risk-taking and low seat belt use, teens are dying at disproportionately high rates,” states a release from the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign, part of “Operation ABC: America Buckles Up Children.”

Lack of seat belt use is generally a problem with drivers and passengers of all ages. In Hood River Thursday, police searched for a vehicle reportedly containing two adult females and two children who were not buckled in.

Such attention by law enforcement has to start with young passengers, but it’s good to place the emphasis on teenagers since they so often travel unsupervised, and are young enough to learn positive habits.

The week-long “Operation ABC” enforcement is backed by $8 million in federal funding to ensure that the buckle up message reaches those least likely to obey the law. According to the Safety Campaign organizers, similar efforts in the past have yielded an 8-12 percent increase in seat belt use.

According to the new data from NHTSA’s Fatal Analysis Reporting Systems (FAIRS), 4,437 teens ages 16-19 died and thousands more were injured in traffic crashes in 2000. The numbers are stark ones, especially to consider them over the Memorial Day holiday when so many people will be on the road.

Fatality rates for teens are twice that of older drivers and the risk of crashes for teens is four times that of older drivers. This year, approximately 8,000 Americans, adults and children, will die in crashes because they failed to buckle their seat belts.

Whether you’re young or old, if you’re traveling this weekend keep it under 65, and buckle up.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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