Prevention is the best medicine

By Brooke Shumaker
     As a nurse in Emergency Department and the Safe Kids Shawnee County Coalition Coordinator, I am driven to do my part in educating parents and children on the importance of being properly restrained while in a motorized vehicle.  During my emergency nursing career over the past 8 years I have seen things that no one can prepare themselves for and helped families deal with their worst fears.
     Seeing the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident and the sadness of those who survived is very heartbreaking and also frustrating.  There are several situations in which reckless driving in combination with no seat belt has led to an unnecessary death.  I can’t stress to patients enough that seatbelts can be the best protection a person has against other drivers.  Wearing your seatbelt is one of the easiest decisions a person can make and is one that can have the most impact. 
     As a nurse in the Emergency Department I find it my duty to continuously educate my patients on the importance of making safe decisions.  Even though I teach patients daily the importance of making healthy decision, I also feel by the time I reach them they have already experienced a tragic event.  
     As the Safe Kids Coalition Coordinator I am now able to promote injury prevention and health promotion outside of the hospital before incidents occur.  I work to partner with local organizations to put on activities throughout the community that promote making safe decisions and living healthy lifestyles.  Some of the activities and initiatives Safe Kids focuses on surrounding motor vehicles are Child Passenger Safety, Buckle Up programs, In and Around Car Safety, Hyperthermia in Cars, and Spot the Tot. 
     Through being a part of Safe Kids I have learned that you not only have to target your efforts towards the children, but also the parents and adults who are their role models.  I always find it interesting to see adults not wearing their seatbelts but their children are.  Parents can also make bad decisions for children by encouraging unsafe practices.  I feel it is the responsibility of the adults and parents to be the role model for the child and instill healthy lifestyles that prevent injuries. 
     To fully promote healthy decisions and lifestyles it takes the teamwork of various key stakeholders throughout the community and resources.  For more information on how you can do your part to keep Kids Safe or events going on in your area visit
     Safety tips to remember:
·         Every person on every ride must use a car seat, booster seat or safety belt that’s right for his or her weight and height
·         All children under age 13 should ride in a back seat
·         Know where the airbags are in your vehicles and whether they can be turned off
·         Don’t share safety belts
·         Never use car seats purchased from yard sales, secondhand stores, or flea markets
·         Weigh and measure your children regularly to ensure they are using the correct safety device.
·         Never let children ride on laps, in cargo areas, or truck beds.
                                         (Safe Kids Worldwide)

Brooke Shumaker RN, BSN, MSN, CNL-C, is a Clinical Nurse Leader in the Emergency Department & Trauma Services for Stormont-Vail HealthCare and also the Safe Kids Shawnee County Coalition Coordinator


  1. Anonymous10/01/2013

    Every parent should read this.

  2. Anonymous10/01/2013

    Great article Brooke. Setting the example is SO important!

  3. Richelle Rumford10/01/2013

    Great blog Brooke. Safe Kids Shawnee County is a great resource for our community and you are right that educating children and parents is so important but ultimately it is up to us as parents to make good decisions and to be a good example for our children, EVERY TIME we get in a vehicle!!

  4. Anonymous10/01/2013

    Wonderful article! Such a simple task can save a life!

  5. Anonymous10/01/2013

    I am a firm believer that saftey education begins at home. As a parent of teen drivers, I make a point to remind them of the dangers of texting and driving, the importance of safe decisions, and to not put the car in drive unless all the passengers are buckled up. More parents should not only set good examples, but set those examples early and be consistent.