Draw Down 2016 was a hoot and hollerin’ good time!

Draw Down has come and gone in a blink of an eye. ThinkFirst celebrated its 10th annual Draw Down Fundraiser on August 4, 2016. With the help of numerous organizations and outstanding individuals we were able to raise over $27,000. The funds raised will support ThinkFirst’s continuous effort to provide injury prevention education throughout the Ark-La-Tex area. ThinkFirst wanted to thank everyone who came, supported, and donated to the Draw Down, without your help none of this would be possible. A special thank you to our MC for the night, Brian Crawford, ThinkFirst President Karen Black, Mary and Steve Smith, Kathie Lilley and our ThinkFirst Staff. Last but not least, congratulations to our very own Donna Cavanaugh, winning this year’s Life Savers award, no one who deserves it more than you. Cheers on 20 years of service with ThinkFirst and here’s too many more!

Donna DD

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Since March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, we want to address the importance of “using your mind to protect your body.”  There are many ways you can prevent yourself and others from getting a traumatic brain injury (TBI).  One way is to always wear your helmet!  Whether you’re riding a bike, rollerskating, skateboarding, etc. wear it because it could save your life!  Some of you may not know how to be properly fitted for a helmet or how to properly wear one, so we have included some safety tips on how to know if your helmet is safe for you!

Helmet Safety Tips

  • Helmets should meet or exceed current safety standards developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can check inside of the helmet for the CPSC label.
  • Wear the helmet flat on the head, not tilted back at an angle.
  • Make sure the helmet fits snugly and does not obstruct the field of vision.
  • Make sure the chin strap fits securely and that the buckle stays fastened.
  • If the straps aren’t buckled, the helmet will most likely fall off if you start to fall off the bike. Then you won’t have anything protecting your head.
  • Do the “Eyes, Ears, and Mouth check:
    1. Eyes Check: Position the helmet on the child’s head. When looking up they should see the bottom rim of the helmet.
    2. Ears Check: Make sure the straps of the helmet for form a “V” under the ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
    3. Mouth Check: When the child opens their mouth as wide as they can, the helmet should hug their head. If not, tighten the straps!
  • The bottom rim of the helmet should be two fingers above the eyebrows.
  • Make sure the helmet is fit for the size of the person wearing it. Helmets too big or too small won’t properly protect you.
  • If you are uncertain whether a helmet is still usable, especially after a crash, throw it away and buy a new one.

It’s that time of year again. Lassiez les bons temps rouler!

Here are some helpful tips to help you and your family stay safe this Mardi Gras:

Mardi Gras DO’s

  • Keep beads, small trinkets, snapping pops, and plastic bags out of children’s reach.
  • Be careful walking and driving near parades and parade traffic.
  • Make sure costumes are safe and age appropriate.
  • Establish a meeting place should you become separated.
  • Place contact information on your child.
  • Respect the law. It’s there for your safety!
  • Keep paths clear for parades and marching groups.
  • Keep children close at all times.
  • Cross ONLY at crosswalks.
  • Make sure to bring snacks and plenty of water.
  • Remove all valuables from vehicles and keep your doors locked.
  • Always have a designated driver.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Practice common sense.

Mardi Gras DON’Ts

  • Do not leave children alone.
  • Do not climb on barricades.
  • Do not assume traffic will stop.
  • Do not fight over throws. They are just plastic.
  • Do not use silly string near open flames.
  • Do not approach horses unless the rider says it is ok.
  • Do not run between floats.
  • Do not place ladders near intersections.
  • Do not reach under a float, even if it is stopped.
  • Do not approach a float or vehicle until it is completely stopped.
  • Do not put beads or throws in your mouth, you might choke.
  • Do not consume alcohol in excess.
  • Do not travel alone. Use the buddy system.
  • Never drink and drive.


ThinkFirst: Make safety a top resolution in 2015

The most popular New Year’s resolutions are — no surprise here — losing weight, getting organized, spending less.

But ultimately the most important ones could involve your personal safety.

Here are 10 safety resolutions for 2015 from ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, a non-profit with the mission of preventing brain and spinal cord injuries:

•1. Always buckle up when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Wearing a seat belt reduces serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about one-half, according to http://www.cdc.gov.

• 2. Never drink and drive or ride with a driver who is impaired. If you plan to drink, designate a driver before you arrive at your destination. You really don’t want to be one of the approximately 30 people who die each day in the United States due to alcohol-impaired drivers.

• 3. Avoid distracted driving, which includes everything from eating behind the wheel to reaching for something in the backseat to using a cell phone. But of all the distractions that can lead to motor vehicle crashes, none is more dangerous than texting. That’s because when you’re texting you’re participating in all three of the main types of distractions: manual (taking your hands off the wheel), visual (taking your eyes off the road) and cognitive (taking your mind off driving).

•4. Wear a helmet and make sure your children wear helmets when: riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle; playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing; using in-line skates or riding a skateboard; batting and running bases in baseball or softball; Riding a horse; skiing or snowboarding.

•5. Always buckle your child into an appropriate child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt, depending on the child’s height, weight, and age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (under 1 year old) by 71 percent; and to toddlers (ages 1–4 years old) by 54 percent in passenger vehicles. Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone. And for older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.

6. Avoid falls in the home with these tips from http://www.cdc.gov: using a step stool with a grab bar to reach objects on high shelves; installing handrails on stairways; installing window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows; using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around; removing tripping hazards such as small area rugs and loose electrical cords; using non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors; putting grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower; maintaining a regular exercise program to improve strength, balance, and coordination; seeing an eye doctor regularly for a vision check to help lower the risk of falling.

• 7. Keep firearms stored unloaded in a locked cabinet or safe. Store ammunition in a separate secured location.

• 8. Don’t dive into a pool unless it’s at least 9 feet deep, says the American Red Cross. Never dive into unknown waters.

• 9. Don’t wear headphones while biking or running where there is traffic. You need all your faculties to monitor what’s going on around you.

• 10. Think first. Many injuries could be prevented if everyone abided by the ThinkFirst slogan: Use your mind to protect your body.

Have a happy – and safe – New Year!

For more information on ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, log on to http://www.thinkfirstlouisiana.org , and call 318-226-0066. For more information on teen driver safety, check out http://www.facebook.com/arklatexthinkfirst and @TFDriveSmart.

Car seat safety assurance

Want to be sure a child car seat is installed properly? Call ahead to one of these agencies for an inspection:

• Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office: 318-681-0755.

• Louisiana State Police Troop G: 318-741-7411, press 8.

• Bossier Parish EMS: 318-965-9454, press 1.


Teens, Dont Text and Drive

Showing or telling.

Which is the more effective teaching tool?

When it comes to instilling safe driving habits in teens, the behavior parents exhibit behind the wheel is far more important than verbal rules.

That’s because parents are still teens’ No. 1 influence – even if they would deny it if asked.

As National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week approaches –  Nov. 17-23 this year– it’s a good idea for parents to take a hard look at their own driving habits, as well as stress the importance of distraction-free driving to their teens.

While any distraction is a safety hazard, texting is the most alarming, according to distraction.gov, because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention. In the average five seconds a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting, a car traveling 55 mph will travel the length of a football field, says a 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

And it’s a growing problem.

Texting and driving has surpassed drinking and driving as the leading cause of teen deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking and driving claims 2,700 teen lives a year, while researchers from Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York report texting and driving eclipses that number at 3,000.

About 60 percent of American high school seniors say they have texted behind the wheel, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s biennial survey of risky youth behaviors. A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving, says a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study.

Here are guidelines for drivers – no matter their age – from Stop the Texts Stop the Wrecks:

  • Out of sight, out of mind. When you’re in the car, put your phone where you can’t get it. No phone. No texting.hone, the less tempted you’ll be to respond while you’re.
  • Silence is golden. Turn notifications off. The less you hear your phone, the less tempted you’ll be to respond while you’re driving.
  • Designate a texter: Passengers get the privilege of texting while in motion.
  • Find your app. Apps are available that can block incoming calls/texts/emails and send an automatic response or read texts and emails aloud and allow the driver to respond by voice.

Need even more motivation?

Texting and driving is illegal at any age in Louisiana. Fines for first offense are up to $175 and $500 for subsequent offenses. Do you really have something to say that’s worth that much money?


For more information on ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, log on to www.thinkfirstlouisiana.org , and call 318-226-0066. For more information on teen driver safety, check out www.facebook.com/arklatexthinkfirst and @TFDriveSmart.

Halloween Safety Tips

Pre- Halloween
1. Choose costumes that are bright and reflective, and are made from flame-resistant materials.
2. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, falling, and getting caught on things. Wear well-fitting masks to avoid blocked vision.
3. Make sure costume accessories are safe and not sharp. Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
4. Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
5. Always test make-up in a small area first and remove it before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation. Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
6. Make sure all children carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.

1. A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children.
2. Hold a flashlight with fresh batteries while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.
3. Look both ways before crossing the street. Cross in groups and use established crosswalks where possible.
4. Use sidewalks and don’t cut across yards, driveways, or alleys. If no sidewalks are available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
5. Never enter a home or car for a treat, unless accompanied by a trusted adult.
6. Never walk near lit candles or luminaries.
7. Only trick-or-treat in familiar neighborhoods at homes that have their porch lights on.
8. Remain on well-lit streets.
9. Walk, don’t run.
10. Don’t assume the right of way. Drivers may have trouble seeing you.
11. Stay away from and don’t pet unfamiliar animals.
12. Examine all treats before eating them for choking hazards and tampering. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
13. Eat only commercially-wrapped treats. Avoid eating home-made treats unless you know the chef well.
14. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

Trick-or-Treating for Older Children
1. If older children are going alone, plan and review an acceptable route and agree on a specific time when they should be home.
2. Stay in a group and communicate where you are going.
3. Carry a cellphone for quick communication.

1. Make sure yards and front porches are clear of anything a child might trip on such as ladders, hoses, dog leashes and flower pots.
2. Put pets away so they don’t inadvertently scare, jump on or bite trick-or-treaters.
3. Check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.

1. Slow down and stay attentive when going through neighborhoods or busy areas.
2. Watch out for excited children running across the street.

1. Immediately notify law enforcement of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Car Seat Safety Facts and Resources

Below are some quick facts when it comes to your child and their safety in your vehicle:

• Remember your child should always ride in the back seat, they are safer there.

• Correctly used car seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71%.

• 73% of car seats are not used correctly.

• Children in booster seats and in the back seat are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash vs. those in just a seat belt.

• If your child out grows one of the car seats’ manufactured height and weight limits but they are not ready to transition to a different style car seat look for the same style car seat that has larger manufacture height and weight limits.

• Rear facing car seats are the safest place for your child as they protect their head, neck, and spine. Keep them there as long as possible according to manufacturing limits.

• Always use the instructions to install your car seat.


For more information visit:

O Think First 318-226-0066; http://www.thinkfirstlouisiana.org

O http://www.safercar.gov/parents/RightFit.htm

O http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?doc=88231

O http://csftl.org/

O http://www.nhtsa.gov/

O http://www.safekids.org/safetytips

O http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx