Safety First we are told. It is ingrained in our culture; it is what defines us in many working industries. From the very first day we step foot at many of our jobs we know the importance of safety. The “Take care of each other” portrait is displayed in every BHI work location that I have seen. It lets us know that we look out for each other so that we return home safe.
Unfortunately, this attitude does not always extend after normal work hours. Yes, we know what “safety” is, but perhaps the biggest mistake we make is to relax when it comes to home safety. Home safety refers to the awareness and education on the risks and potential dangers – which may cause bodily harm, injury, or death- to those residing in and around the physical structure of a home. It includes mitigating or eliminating dangers through testing, research, and application of accepted standard practices.
In 2014, the CDC reported that the number one cause of death for infants to 19 years old is accidental death. In 2014 alone, over 340,000 children and adults died as a result of accidental death. Those numbers are astronomical when we consider most of these deaths were preventable. Unfortunately, that is the reality. Even though our company is safety conscientious, truth is that most companies are not. Most people do not like to think that they could lose someone they love in an instant; that tragedy could strike their household at any time.
On November 6, 2015, my youngest child, Nathan, became a part of those statistics. I clearly remember my mother calling my phone during a tendering meeting. After the third missed phone call, I decided to leave the meeting and take her call. With great sadness in her voice she asked, “How are you?” At that moment I immediately knew something was wrong; first thing that came to mind was my dad. I asked, “Is dad ok? What’s wrong?” She replied, “There has been an accident and you need to come home. Nathan took water and is not doing well. The police and ambulance are here.” At that moment, one could imagine my panic. I grabbed my computer and fled out of the meeting. I called my husband and through sobs I managed to tell him that our little Nathan was being life-flighted to Dallas Children’s Medical Hospital. After three days of tests, blood work, EKG’s, and full life support it was very apparent that the baby I once knew was gone and the high levels of oxygen going into his little body were causing more damage than good. Despite having one of the best medical teams in the country there was nothing they could do to bring life into my little Nathan once again. A careless decision to leave him unsupervised in the tub for a moment took his life. There are no words to express how deeply this experience has changed me and my family. Loosing a child is the most difficult life experience that a parent will ever have to endure.
Nathan Kyle Brendle was born October 23, 2014. He has a big brother (Ryan) who doted over him. His parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins -and just about anybody else who ever got the chance to meet him- fell in love instantly. He was a loving, sweet, funny, active little boy who made everyone happy. He had just celebrated his first birthday before his passing.
Following weeks of grief, our family realized that we had the opportunity to help others prevent similar tragedies. In early 2016, the Nathan K. Brendle Foundation was established to commemorate the lives of children who were taken from this world too soon, as a result of accidental death. Most importantly, the foundation will raise awareness in our communities regarding the importance of child safety. Our main focus is to prevent child injuries and prepare parents with lifesaving skills in case an emergency does occur. As a way to prevent accidental death, “Project for Life” was launched in July of 2016 to assist our community learn life saving skills that include CPR, AED, and First Aid. We want to provide these classes, free of charge, to parents and caregivers who otherwise cannot afford it. These skills will take our communities a step closer to help respond to, if not avoid altogether, unintentional injuries that could result in death.
I hope you use Nathan’s story as a reminder that tragedies can happen to anyone, even to the best of parents, at any time. The goal every day should be to consider safety for yourself AND for your loved ones, your coworkers, and those around you. Moral of the story…what good does it do for one to be trained for any emergency, when your spouse, children, and those giving care to your children are not?
Safety means leading through action.