It’s the time of year when it is dark outside as students are waiting for the bus and walking or riding their bikes to and from school. While short days are something we’re all accustomed to in Alaska, evolution has not helped our ability to see any better in the dark.
Almost everyone of with a license to drive has probably driven by a child on a darkened street at some point, and said to themselves with a feeling of relief, “I almost didn’t see that kid!” In fact, most drivers need a minimum distance of 260 feet in order to stop in time to miss something on the road; more if the road is slick. If a child in the roadway is wearing dark clothing, a driver’s reaction time is greatly reduced – allowing just 55 feet to stop after seeing the child. Even wearing white clothing gives drivers a mere 180 feet of reaction time – not enough to avoid an accident or quite possibly a catastrophe.
The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Injury Prevention Team wants to let everyone know that taking precautions does not mean avoiding the walk to school or the wait at the bus stop, but there are some simple ways to make children safer while doing both. It’s as easy as adding reflective tape or buying clothes with built-in reflectives to help children “Be Safe, Be Seen.” Wearing reflective gear allows children to be seen from 500 feet away.
Purchasing all new coats, jackets and backpacks with built-in reflective gear may not make financial sense, but reflective tape is very inexpensive and easy to apply and remove from clothing. Once you obtain the reflective tape, remember to place reflective tape on all sides of the child’s jacket — the front, back, both sides and along both arms. You should also apply reflective tape to backpacks, book bags and your child’s bike frame. As an added bonus when you’re finished, turn off the lights and shine a flashlight on the tape to show your kid how cool it looks.
For more information, please visit the Injury Prevention section of the SEARHC website, http://www.searhc.org/services/health-promotion/injury-prevention. Free reflective tape may be requested from the SEARHC Injury Prevention Team by contacting Lesa Way at 966-8804 or firstname.lastname@example.org.