BURRILLVILLE – We are a few weeks into the summer season and have dealt with some extremely hot and sunny days in between the rainy days. It’s a guarantee that many more hot and sunny days are on the way over the next few months.
While I’m driving to area charity car shows, cruise nights, community events and showcases, I see a lot of kids riding bikes, skateboarding and rollerblading without wearing any protective gear, and especially not wearing helmets during their wheeled sports activities. Occasionally, I have an opportunity to ask the kids why they aren’t wearing helmets while participating with these wheeled sports activities. The most common responses are: “It’s not cool to wear helmets,” “They are uncomfortable,” and “My parents cannot afford to buy me a helmet. They are too expensive.”
I then ask if they have water bottles and attachments on their bikes in case they get thirsty. I tell them that it’s hot and they could become dehydrated and become sick if they don’t drink water. They don’t know what dehydration means. So, I explain it to them. I tell them not to drink soda because it could also directly impact their condition while actively playing outside in the summer. I suggest that they limit outdoor activities during hot and sunny days.
The kids seem to be very responsive and have told me that they will drink water and reduce exposure to the heat and sun for the rest of the summer. I even receive fist bumps from some of the older kids and teenagers. Most of the kids and teens in this area already know who I am and remember receiving my kids safety coloring posters, coloring books, stickers, full color posters and fridge magnets, given to them by police officers and firefighters in their schools, libraries and area community events over the years growing up. They also remember seeing the giant Buckleupallofus balloon on display at their schools, libraries and community events across the area, and tell me they do always buckle up. A few told me they see me at area car shows and cruise nights.
Opening communication and dialogue regarding safety is very important, and I find most kids and teenagers respond positively to these discussions whenever I have an opportunity to speak direction to them. This week’s Sunday Cartoon is important for kids and teenagers. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are not fun things to experience for anyone at any age. This message can save lives. Wearing helmets is a critical message that can help prevent unintentional head trauma and also potentially save lives.
Jim Weicherding is a Burrillville resident, and the founder and creator of an award-winning traffic safety effort Seasons of Safety. Weicherding contributes kids’ coloring cartoons, which can be printed and used to help parents discuss safety issues with their children. He has a long list of police officers and firefighters in his family and has worked with law enforcement and firefighters in a creative public safety capacity for more than two decades.