Families learn about creating safer environments for children

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COLUMBIA — A free carnival-style event Saturday aims to combine fun with education about childhood safety and accident prevention. The University of Missouri Children's Hospital is hosting Safe Kids Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the MU Hearnes Center Fieldhouse. 
Safe Kids Coordinator Sheila Robertson said the event is bigger and better this year than ever before.
She said the event is broken into different safety zones with a range of topics. 
"One topic could be auto safety where we're going to talk about seat belts and car seats and distracted driving," Robertson said. "We're having another zone that is dedicated to sports safety where we'll talk about concussions and how to prevent those and the signs to look for ans what to do if you think you have a concussion. We'll have another area for bike safety and how it's important to wear a bike helmet anytime you're on anything with wheels."
According to the CDC Childhood Injury Report, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. Families will participate in the event with goal of turning the statistic around. 
Safe Kids Columbia is bringing together local health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, volunteers, and other community members dedicated to childhood protection.
The free carnival-style event includes live stage entertainment and booths to offer tips on injury prevention and child safety. 
Safe Kids Board President Jim Robertson said the community's familiarity with Safe Kids is growing, which speaks to the bigger attendance. 
"There's a lot more out there to be worried about as far as safety goes, distracted driving and a number of things," Robertson said. "With technology every year it seems like there's something new, so it's good to stay fresh on that. It's a fun environment for the kids but it's also meant to educate the parents."   
Other activities will involve vehicle safety with race cars, exploring trucks, bounce houses, face painting, prizes and a t-shirt tie-dye station. 
There will also be grand prize drawings and 100 free bike helmets with a fitting. 
Lunch will be provided, which includes free hot dogs, chips and a cookie. 
A new aspect this year, families can recycle outdated car seats at the drop-off point in the parking lot of the Hearnes Center near the main entrance. 
Safe Kids Columbia is affiliated with Safe Kids Worldwide, which is a global network of organizations devoted to preventing unintentional childhood injuries.