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Kids, parents play safe at annual Safe Kids Fair

SANDY — Ten-year-old Caiden Champneys sported his brand new, bright red helmet as he explored the 17th annual Safe Kids Fair on Saturday.

Caiden was one of 200 children who received a free bike helmet at the South Towne Exposition Center’s yearly event to promote kid safety. His mother, Athena Champneys from Lehi, said she has attended the Safe Kids Fair almost every year ever since Caiden was a baby.

“There’s just so much you can learn,” Champneys said. “As a mother, I’m just doing whatever I can to keep everybody safe.”

Members from the Salt Lake County Heath Department, Safe Kids Salt Lake County Coalition and iHeart Media joined forces to assemble more than 100 different organizations to host safety-themed booths and activities, including numerous Utah police and fire departments, hospitals and schools.

Each year the Safe Kids Fair promotes safety in a world where hazards are always evolving, and parents need to keep up with how to take necessary precautions, said May Romo, Safe Kids Salt Lake County Coalition coordinator.

“It’s one-stop shopping for safety information,” Romo said. “It’s all about keeping kids safe and having parents become educated on stuff they might not know is harmful.”

Preventable injury continues to be the No. 1 cause of death of children, Romo said.

“When you stop to really analyze the word ‘preventable,’ that means it didn’t have to happen,” Romo said. “And the cost to a family — emotionally, physically, financially — is tremendous. You can’t even put a dollar amount on that. So that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to say we need to really stop, look and listen to prevent those injuries.”

More than 20,000 people attended this year’s event, Nate Stansfield, marketing and promotions director of iHeart Media, said.

“We think it’s important to the community, with all of the accidents you see happen every day and, unfortunately, even with kidnapping and abuse and suicide — all of those things that affect families and children of all ages — we just want to help them learn how to protect themselves and how to be safe,” Stansfield said.

The fair provided parents with a wealth of safety information, from access to self-defense classes for them and their children, to advice from car seat technicians on installing car seats correctly.

Champney said when her children were younger she would take her car seats to be checked every year.

“It’s very surprising that most people don’t have their car seats adjusted right,” Champney said.

Officers from several Utah police and public safety departments attended the fair to give children information about crime prevention and drug safety and even offer parents free identification kits in case they ever have to deal with a lost child.

The officers aimed to show kids that police are “human” and approachable friends of the community, South Jordan police officer Jonathan Campbell said.

“If we can interact with the kids at younger ages, once they get older they interact with us better,” Campbell said. “We want to show them that police aren’t the bad guys.

Romo said the Safe Kids Fair acts as an important yearly reminder for parents to stay vigilant for their children’s safety. She said parents can access more kid safety information at www.safekids.org.

“We really just recognize the importance of families and keeping them together and safe,” Stansfield said. “(We’re) making sure everyone’s looking out for one another, and making it known that there are organizations all around us willing to lend a hand.”

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com