Ollie Otter teaches 1st graders to buckle up

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Donice Easterling and Ollie Otter

JANS – Children at Timberlawn Elementary now know about Mississippi’s booster seat law after a visit from delightful, furry mascot Ollie the Otter. This law requires that children ages 4 – 7 must ride in a booster seat if shorter than 4’9” or weigh less than 65 lbs. Drivers must adhere to this law or will receive a traffic ticket. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, Ollie Otter taught students how to ride safely in the car. Donice Easterling, children’s safety teacher with Mississippi Safety Services, spoke for Ollie Otter, teaching the 1st graders and reciting Ollie’s memorable slogans: “Under 4’9” – It’s Booster Time!”, “The Back is Best!”, and “You Otter Buckle Up!” Mrs. Horton, the school’s counselor, said the visit from Ollie and friends was “very eye-opening, entertaining, and kept the students engaged… We were just excited to have them here, and our students were excited to learn!”

Kay Brodbeck, Director of Mississippi Safety Services, spoke to children about ways to stay safe in the car, such as riding in the back seat, sitting in a booster seat, and keeping the seat belt snug over the hips and shoulder. She wants parents and guardians to know that “buckling children up correctly can prevent brain and spinal cord injuries in the event of a crash. We want them to establish the buckle up habit for life!” 

It is vital for children to ride in the back seat because the back seat of a car is the safest place for small bodies. In the event of a crash, if a child is in the front seat, the airbag can damage the spinal cord, causing life-altering injuries or death. Children need to use booster seats after they outgrow their safety seat at age 5 or 6. Vehicle collision researchers find that young children are too small for standard seat belts and must use booster seats for the belt to fit correctly across the strong bones in the hip and shoulder. 

Mississippi has the highest traffic death rate and one of the lowest child restraint usage rates in the United States. For every 100 child deaths, approximately 75 children could have survived if properly buckled and restrained. Parents and guardians, please ensure you are buckling up your children correctly; thank you for protecting young lives!

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Ollie Otter teaches 1st graders to buckle up

By Jackson Advocate News Service
November 6, 2023