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Safe Kids fairs teach summer safety habits
Ranger J.D. Liebrock of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources demonstrates Friday during a Safe Kids Gainesville/Hall County Safety Fair at McEver Arts Academy how to use a towel to help pull a swimmer in trouble to shore.

Roughly 300 children at McEver Arts Academy spent Friday learning how to stay safe during the summer, when children are most at risk for accidents.

Each year, Safe Kids Gainesville/Hall County coordinates Safety Fairs for one Hall County school and one Gainesville city school. The goal of the events is to educate kids on how to prevent injuries from bicycling, playing sports, swimming or boating as well as the dangers of poisonous chemicals, house fires and car crashes.

Many dangerous activities are more prevalent in the summer when kids are out of school, and accidental injuries are the No. 1 killer of children under 14 years old, according to Kim Martin, coalition coordinator for Safe Kids Gainesville/Hall County.

“In health care we call summer ‘trauma season’ because kids are outdoors more,” she said. “When the weather gets warm, the kids are out riding bikes and swimming, so our goal is to give them the information to keep them safe through the summer.”

The children rotated to five different stations, each focusing on a different topic and manned by local government agencies and health care associations, to learn about a variety of safety devices and procedures.

At the sports and bicycle safety station, which was manned by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, the kids learned the importance of proper helmet use and how to prevent concussions. In addition, each participating child received a bicycle helmet that was properly fitted by volunteers from Chestatee High School.

“We ask them ‘who wears a helmet?’ and the percentage of students who actually say they wear helmets is very low,” said Chris Still, a deputy with the sheriff’s office Traffic Enforcement Unit. “If we can prevent one injury, then we have achieved our goal.”

The lesson, it seemed, was not lost on the children.

“I learned that you need to wear a helmet when you ride a bike, always be with a friend when you are riding through the neighborhood and to be safe,” said Jaxson Maysonet, an 8-year-old student at McEver Arts Academy. “I have an electric Razor scooter — that thing goes 10 miles an hour — and I always wear a helmet when I ride it.”

At the water safety station, the kids learned about the difference between swimming aids and life jackets and how to stay safe on a boat. Sgt. Mike Burgamy, the Lake Lanier supervisor for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said educational events such as Safety Fairs have contributed to a growing trend of life jacket use among children.

“We have not had a kid drown on the lake in a long time now, where it used to be quite frequent years ago,” he said. “We take such a stance on safety and education that the kids are really getting more exposed to it.”

Between Friday’s event at McEver Arts Academy and one at Fair Street School last Monday, roughly 600 second- and third-graders participated in the annual Safety Fairs and received bicycle helmets.

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