Vol. XXXXII, No. 5 --- May 2005

CFMS Newsletter

Table of Contents
President's Message
Editors Desk
Show Update
Endowment Fund
Cab Cases
Cab Cases
All American Awards
Junior Activities
Public Relations
Museum Corner
AFMS Scholarship
Tax Information
Education thru Sharing
Program Aids
Field Trip South

Prez Message

By Marion Roberts, CFMS President

CFMS President

April is here again, already and I'm preparing for the May newsletter. It seems as though I'm just getting started with the year and my goodness I'm almost looking at the down hill side.

Hello to everyone and hope all enjoyed or survived the wet winter and spring. This can be a Mother Lode for collecting, particularly for surface material. Gold has been on the move, and filled your favorite holes again.

I'm getting everything ready for Zzyzx Earth Science Studies week and looking forward to another great session. There are nearly 40 people signed on for the Saturday open house. Cal will be sending everyone home with a nice memento and Tom Burchard and I will help fill them with a bit of Bar-B-Q.

I'm pleased to report that the AFMS Scholarship money is coming in at a nice rate and all the other Federations are doing as much one-dollar per member according to size. For those who have not brought it to your clubs attention, please do so soon, because we need to have it in hand by early August.

I want to thank the committees that are contributing to the newsletter because the local clubs can see what is going on, as well as me, getting a handle on the activities.

In closing a little short this month I just want to remind everyone to prepare for and attend the CFMS Show in Roseville in June.

ATTENTION Officers and Committee Chairs: Reports for the Directors' Meeting are due May 30. If unable to meet this deadline, chairmen should bring 100 copies of their report to the Directors Meeting. Don't forget: Banquet reservations, camping or motel reservations, and Show pre-reservations. Remind your members, also.

From The Editor's Desk
"Passing It On"

Dick Pankey, Editor

Are you "passing it on?" Are you helping to get the news and views of the CFMS to the members, Your Club's members? Your members and the Federation are counting on you. Each month three members of your club (typically the Federation Director, the President and the Bulletin Editor) receives a copy of the CFMS Newsletter. And if you don't "pass it on" how are your members going to know what is going on?

The Federation officers and committees work throughout the year on many projects and activities that affect and contribute to the club's, and our hobby. They communicate to the clubs through this Newsletter, the CFMS web site, and at the Directors' meetings. We are counting on you, the people who receive this Newsletter to "pass it on." The news and views can be passed on as reports at your meetings. Or in reprints in your club bulletin. Or passing on the forms and fliers to your other officers and committee people. Or when you finish reading the Newsletter post it at your clubhouse or give it to other members.

This Communication isn't meant to be in one direction only - from the Federation to the clubs. Your officers and committees want to hear from the clubs and the members. Our address, phone numbers and e-mail address are listed in each issue of the Newsletter. Let us know your ideas, thoughts, concerns, needs and desires. And if you like what is going on we want to hear about that, too.

The easiest, fast, and no forgetting/no hassle way is to remind your members to use the CFMS web page: www.cfmsinc.org. Then every member can have their own copy of the Newsletter as well as all the other great features that Don Ogdon has for us. While on the Internet check out some of the sites that Jim Brace-Thompson has been telling us about.

I have just been told about some errors and omission in the Officer and Committee Roster. Please check it out and notify me of needed corrections.

A Big Thank You to all of the bulletin editors that send me an exchange bulletin.

Time is Short! ! !

By Gloria Tomczyk, 2005 Show Chair

I would like to offer an update on the progress of the CFMS show, with the hope that ALL of you reading this will attend. If you haven't done so yet, please submit your reservations for camping or for the Best Western in Roseville, if you plan to stay in town. Remember to mention the Gem Show to get the reduced rate. Same goes for the banquet, this is one banquet that you may wish you had attended when all is said and done! There is still time! If you are coming just for the Directors meeting, please make sure that you have submitted your show registration form(s). This needs to be done so that we know you are attending, and it allows us to have a pass ready for you at the gate, allowing you into the meeting room and show, later if you choose. (You can download forms from the website at www.rockrollers.com)

As I have mentioned before the show keeps improving with each passing week. We now have added a 70,000 year old standing Cave Bear from Russia to the show lineup of attractions, thanks to perseverance by the show committee, and the willingness of the owner to display it. This new addition will be a very nice compliment to the various museum displays already lined up, along with the 5 foot fulgurite and 123 pound meteorite.

Are there any pin collectors out there??? If you are one of those folks that love to display these unique little things all over your vest, well the Roseville Rock Rollers have got you covered! At this show we will offer pins as a remembrance of the "Roseville Gem & Mineral Blast 2005." Quantities will be limited so make sure you pick one up when picking up your admission packet upon entering the show. And by the way, what better way could there be to show off that lovely new pin except to be on your club's vest! With that said, I offer a challenge to each and every one of the CFMS Directors and Board Members out there. The challenge is: Fly your club's colors, by wearing your vest and nametag, Show pin or no Show pin! Let's have a colorful show this year in Roseville! I have gone to shows in the past where visiting club members were clearly represented, by visitors wearing their jackets from all over California. Attend the meeting on Saturday, collect your ticket stub for the drawing on the gold nugget, and lets see your colors!

CFMS Endowment Fund

By Ray Meisenheimer, Chair, CFMS Endowment Fund

The CFMS Endowment Fund was established in 1987 to provide a steady source of income to financially assist the programs and services that CFMS provides its members. Only the earnings are available for distribution. Funds come from individual donations, club donations, memorials, and special fund raising programs.

Again this year Florence and I will have a sales table at the CFMS Show in Roseville on Friday only. Saturday we will attend the business meeting. We appreciate donation of any material, jewelry, slabs, petrified wood, etc. that we can sell at the Endowment Fund Table. Please give us your donation ahead of the Show or bring them to us at the Show.

Thank you in advance for your donations and consideration.

CFMS Cab Cases

By Bob Pevahouse, Cab Cases - North

What do you know about the CFMS cab cases? At a recent show (the Mother Lode Show in Turlock, Ca.) a list of questions was available for a treasure hunt for juniors, but I did see a number of adults participating. One of the questions asked how many cabs were in the CFMS cab cases on display.

This created an interest in the cases and not only did they count the cabs but it drew interest to the type of material, what location they came from, and the society contributing the material.

Do you know if your society has a cab or material in the case? If so, do you know what the material is or where it is from? Do you know what other material is available in the California - Nevada - Arizona area covered by CFMS? Do you know how many cabs are on display in the three sets of cases, one in Northern California, one in Central California and one in Southern California?

No, I'm not going to tell you how many cabs there are. You will have to check the cases and see for yourself. While doing this check on some of the other questions asked above.

Remember, the cab cases are available for display at your shows. The Chairmen for the different areas are listed in the CFMS Newsletter. Contact the chairman in your area for arrangements to have the cases in your show.

Howdy everyone!

By CJ Quitoriano, Cab Cases - Central

Sorry I have been remiss in my reporting of the whereabouts your central California Cab Cases! But so far this year, they have visited the Ventura Show in March, and they went to Turlock the next week, but were not actually displayed there, they just went for a joy ride with us! They will next be going to the Kern County show, and from there to the Conejo Show. After those shows, I will give you a brief report on how they enjoyed their visits, and let you know where they are going next!

Thank you and have a great day!

All American Awards Program Report

By Dot Beachler, Chair, All American Club Committee

The entry period for the 2004 program closed March 15,2005 with three clubs participating. All are in the small club category. These entries are:

  • Peninsula Gem and Geology Society
  • Roseville Rock Rollers
  • Sutter Buttes Gem and Mineral Society

Since we had no large clubs entering, it would appear that the small clubs have some very earnest workers as members. The California region judging results will be announced at the CFMS Show in June at Roseville. When judging is completed the books will be sent to the AFMS for national judging. Results of that judging will be announced in August at the AFMS show.

About Judges

By Dee Holland, Chair, Rules Committee

For some time there has been a concern by judges throughout the U.S. that judging at the regional level hasn't always been the same. This is brought home at a National Show when scores swing wildly compared to scores that have been received at previous regional shows.

There are many reasons for that, unfortunately. Sometimes the regional judge doesn't want to go too hard on someone fearing they won't compete again. But this can backfire when the exhibitor get a score that qualifies him/her for the AFMS competition. Once the exhibitor gets a score of 90, even though they might not get a trophy, their score is forwarded automatically to the AFMS registrar, and is on file for 12 years for that particular exhibit. The exhibit hasn't been changed from the last time shown so the flaws are still there. A judge comes in and gives the exhibitor an honest evaluation and the fireworks begin.

Because of these problems, in 2002 I proposed to the Directors of the AFMS at Port Townsend, that an Ad Hoc Judges Training Committee be formed to work out this problem. The idea was to send one representative judge from each of the seven regional federations to the Eastern Federation's Wildacres Judging Class. The AFMS directors approved this unanimously and we began sending judges to Wildacres in 2003. Representatives from CFMS have been, Pat LaRue, 2003 URC Chair, Norvie Enns, CFMS Rules Committee, and Bural LaRue who attended on his own. In 2004 Ruth Bailey, long time judge at both the CFMS and AFMS level attended. Each of those officially attending received board and room at Wildacres. The travel expenses were paid by each individual. This program has produced some very positive results, and a new resolve by each individual to go back to their respective regional federations and work for better communication between the judges and exhibitors. Unfortunately, if there are no competitive exhibitors, all this work will be for naught.

I have offered to come to clubs within the CFMS and talk. Only one club at this time has asked for assistance, the Calaveras Gem and Mineral Club. We are trying to get the word out that competitive competition isn't what it's been in the past. Each person has a horror story about the time they entered competition. We are trying to change this, but need the help of all the clubs and their members to accomplish this.

Just think of what would happen if the CFMS didn't have any more competitive exhibits. It's the competitive exhibits over the years that have helped all exhibits to improve. If there isn't a goal, what lies ahead? It isn't too late to contact either Norvie Enns or myself to talk to your club. If we can't make it, we'll find a judge like Ruth, Bural and Pat and others who will be able to speak.

Surfing the Web, Part Four: Museums

By Jim Brace-Thompson, Juniors Activities Chair

In my fourth and final column on using the web to tap into the interest of today's computer-connected kids, I provide annotated listings of Web sites for natural history museums. Museums are wonderful resources and make for great field trip destinations with kids. Unfortunately, not all of us are conveniently located close to a museum. The Web circumvents this problem, and today, pretty much every major museum - and most smaller, regional museums - offer a glimpse of their collections on-line, combined with additional educational resources and links. For instance, just a few seconds after typing "Natural History Museums" into the Google search engine, I found a long list of sites. I explore just a few for this month's column. Each offers excellent listings of other museums, complete with links that take you to them.


An "Education Index Top Site," here you'll find direct links to local and regional museums, large and small museums, and university collections across the U.S. and around the world. One of the most comprehensive collections of museum links I've seen!


The University of California, Berkeley, Museum of Paleontology is a research museum not open to the general public - except through this web site. Links allow you to explore the museum collections, enter a "paleoportal," and learn about exhibits and education on the history of life.


"Kuban's Guide to Natural History Museums on the Web" features annotated links to the larger, more famous museums and virtual museums that feature displays of fossils, paleontology, and related subjects.


Visit dinosaur exhibits and the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.


The Royal Ontario Museum of Toronto, Canada, is a true treasure from our neighbors of the North.


"The Dynamic Earth" gives you an inside look at geology exhibits at Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History as well as info on geological processes. For instance, see how caves form or how minerals precipitate and change under heat and pressure.


Online activities and resources are available through the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Lesson are written for primary through high school levels (and divided by grade levels) in five areas, including Earth Science, Paleontology, and Astronomy. You'll find 17 lessons on Minerals, 6 on Meteorites, and more than 25 on various aspects of Paleontology. Museums are terrific places to take kids for "indoor field trips," but if the nearest museum is too far away, distance need not preclude a visit. Take your kids on a "virtual" field trip. The furthest museum is now just a mouse click away! As with the sites I shared last month, these sites scratch just the surface of what's out there. Make this into an activity for your juniors by exploring one museum's web site as a group and then encouraging them to surf the Web for interesting museum sites and having them share what they find with their fellow members at your next meeting. Let's capitalize on the tools today's kids use for learning while-as always-having fun!


By Stephen Blocksage, Publicity/Public Relations Committee

Have you ever wondered why one house on the block looks better than others or sells quicker of why one font looks better than another? For some reason crispness of line and attention to detail and remaining uncluttered seem to be the key to success in presenting a home for sale. These crisp and tidy lines say somebody cares for this house; it is well taken care of and was loved by its owners even though such may not be the case at all. Nobody wants to buy a fixer unless they have particular skills to do something about the circumstance themselves and get a nice discount from market value for their trouble. The sign and the curb appeal (sightlines) make the difference in marketing a house. Some attention to interior decoration and sightlines is helpful as well as your color palette to create the just the right color scheme throughout. The same applies to our ad signs for shows. The sign itself sends a message as to whether it's worth stopping to look or is it just another garage sale.>/p>

To often I have seen signs and ads created by well-meaning, on-a-budget club members, that say "garage sale." Their lettering is not crisp or uneven there is poor contrast and the letters usually aren't big enough to be read easily and they may even be the wrong color. Persons in cars for instance need to see letters at least (6) six inches tall with good even spacing between the letters. Black on yellow, yellow or white on blue etc are colors where the most contract is found. The sign or ad should be easily read at 125 feet. For highway exposure at least 250 feet where the speed limit is 55 or above and should be limited to what can be read in 2 seconds or less. Signs in black and white say business but perhaps you wish to imply additional information with variation in letter coloring and font. Choose a smooth surface to work with it is easier to maneuver a brush on the smooth surface and achieve a density and evenness of color over the surface of the letter. Get a steady rest or a sign painter's device with one rough sticky end and a rod of sufficient diameter and length attached to allow access to all the sign. The end of the rod is held in the hand opposite the painting hand and the wrist of the painting hand supported on the rod to steady the hand. You need to practice so use some cardboard and then go to Masonite to make your signs. If you find yourself unable to make satisfactory letters get a set from stationary store or paint supply the sign painters rod can be obtained there also. Use a scroll saw or saber to cut out a set from 1/8" or •  " tempered Masonite. Tempered Masonite lasts longer and has tougher edges so they don't wear down with use.

Use a paint pen with a •   " or wider line. Outline in black and then fill the interior of the outline with your choice of color. You will be surprised at how much better your signs look. For quick signs place the letters and spray paint around them with even or irregular borders as you see fit this leaves a negative with the clean lines we are looking for. With a lettering-set you can create a sign in the time it takes to set the letters in place using correct spacing. You may want a six-inch set, a nine-inch set and a foot high set or larger. Use a highly readable font like Arial or Times Roman over more exotic fonts. Use color variation for emphasis. Also build a set of arrows for left, right and forward along with commas, colons and periods etc.

Your signs need to be light but able to be wind resistant a half sheet of Masonite makes a great sail so you might need an A-frame with signs on both sides with places to use sand bags to weight the sign against winds over 15 mph. Lettering in the vertical is often eye catching, as are signs in the sky. The use of tethered balloons with lettering on them is effective for a daytime draw especially where buildings block sight lines from ground level. The use of colored signs or pennants going up the tether leads the eye up to the balloon signage or shape. Nighttime illumination can follow with the use of halogen lamps with 500-watt capacity. These are relatively cheap and give a pleasing color to illuminate with at night. A sign or a balloon on a short tether lit by good lighting and well contrasted can really get attention especially if used before the event for several weeks in the planned location. Remember that advertising needs to seen and then backed up at least 4 to 5 times before a decision is made on the part of the general public to attend the advertised event. Addendum: Truth in advertising is a real value that we should all strive for in all we advertise or write about. Unfortunately I violated a rule of verifying my source in time where information I had used was stale by several months and had changed since I was told it. I'm speaking of Zzyzx and our spring seminar. I should have checked with Cal Clason before using information that was at least 120 days old regarding the seminar. In a sense I did the seminar a disservice and caused Cal to publicize a date for next year that is tentative. While they say any advertising is good advertising as long as you spell Zzyzx correctly I'm sure that Cal did not want to receive it from the CFMS Bulletin in the way he did. My apologies for the disinformation no matter how well intended, it is a lesson for all of us to learn from.

Museum Corner

By Debbie Bunn, Chair, Museum Committee

If you happen to be in the Sacramento area, and are interested in the history of gold mining; plan to visit the historic Kennedy Gold Mine in Jackson, Ca. Take the above ground self guided tour and visit the 135 foot high head frame erected over the deepest vertical shaft in the Mother Lode. This is one of the most photographed sites in the gold country, so bring your camera. See the abandoned stamp mill and other mining equipment.<'p>

Take a docent-guided tour and visit the 3 story mine office building with its retort, assay, pay room, and third story bedrooms. Learn about the deadly fire that claimed 47 lives; bodies, which remain in the mine to this day. The Change House has a simulated underground mining tunnel, mining displays, and several rock display cases organized by the Amador County gem & mineral club. There is a great gift shop with items for the kids and the serious gold rush collector. There is a good collection of gold rush themed books and CD's, including songs of the gold rush.

Jackson is 42 miles east of Sacramento on Highway 49, halfway between Placerville and Sonora. The mine is open on weekends March thru October. Hours are 10 am to 3 pm. The entrance fee is $9 for those 13 years and older, $5 for ages 6 thru 12, and free for those 5 and under. The entrance off the highway is a little tricky. One entrance is thru the Linda Vista motel and church. The other entrance is across from the rest stop/view site. If you enter the town of Jackson, you've gone too far.

Spring is a particularly lovely time to visit the gold country. But even in the summer, Jackson is usually several degrees cooler than Sacrament. There are many other gold rush sites in the area including the giant water wheel and the Amador county museum. Come and spend a weekend in the gold country and be sure to visit the Kennedy gold mine.

AFMS Scholarship Challenge

By Montella Lopez, AFMS Scholarship Chairman

Let's all continue to work to make it possible for our Foundation to give still more Scholarship money to deserving students. We have received several unrestricted contributions to the AFMS Scholarship Foundation and many of the donations have been from Societies that had not previously sent money to the Foundation. This is really good news and will be a real help to our mission to provide scholarships for students interested in the earth sciences. It is encouraging to find so many of our clubs taking part in this endeavor.

We still have a ways to go on our efforts to have enough money to offer a second scholarship for the coming year. Please help encourage your society to make a special contribution to this great cause. It gives me a great deal of pride to belong to an organization that has done so much in a very short time to help further the study of the earth sciences. The Scholarship Foundation has just been in operation since 1963 and we have already given over $1,000,000 in Scholarships. Doesn't that make you proud to be a member of such a great group?

Insurance - Umbrella Policies

By Fred Ott, Insurance Chairperson

Many people have heard the term "umbrella" policy and have wondered what such policies actually "do." Simply stated: an "umbrella" policy provides "excess" (or "additional") liability protection in the event of a major claim that exceeds the limits of liability that you carry on your current policies (automobile, home, boat, etc.).

Here's an example: suppose you carry 100/300/50 limits of liability on your automobile insurance policy which, for the longest time, were very good limits. Now, unfortunately, it's much more common to see claims above these limits! These three limits mean that your insurance company will pay up to $100,000 per person but no more than $300,000 per accident (involving 3-or-more persons) in which you caused "bodily injury" to others. Additionally, the policy would also pay up to $50,000 for any "property damage" that you may have caused (such as damaging the fender on another vehicle or causing a chain-reaction of several vehicles). But what happens if you cause a "major" accident and are liable for more than these limits? That's where an "umbrella" policy comes into play. Such policies typically pay up to an additional $1 million for your legal obligations should you exhaust the limits of your "underlying" policies (autos, home, boat, rentals, etc.).

There are several requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for such "umbrella" policies, but you may find that, in your situation, it may cost as little as $20 to $30 per month for $1 million of coverage. Call your current automobile or homeowner's insurance agent or broker and ask for a quote.

Tax Advisor Notes

By Mike Kokinos, Tax Advisor

  • The Internal Revenue Service has established a subscriber list for persons interested in current news concerning nonprofit organizations. If you have email capability, you can subscribe to receive email updates from the Exempt Organization Group. To subscribe send a blank email to EO-update-subscribe.
  • Want to verify your society is tax exempt and under what Section of the Internal Revenue Code? The E.O. Customer Account Services can furnish the information as well as help you with other questions. Call toll free 1-877-829-5500.
  • There has been a tremendous increase in the number of applications for tax exemption since 9/11. The Internal Revenue Service has also seen an increase in organizations abusing their tax exemption.
  • I do recommend first asking Pat LaRue or me before going to the Service for specific problems.

Education Through Sharing

By Loretta Ogden, Chair, Education Through Sharing

This newsletter is the last issue that you can honor a member in print and be mentioned at the banquet at the show in Roseville. We still have the business meeting in November and I will be very happy to deliver the certificate to the Federation Director at that time. They can be mailed to you if need be, I would much rather personally deliver them to a member of the club.

Remember every one likes to be praised for their good deeds and this is a very handy way to do it. You can copy your nomination from the CFMS newsletter or the AFMS in your own club publication. I know every club has more than one deserving member so lets get them nominated.

Thank you for all of the entries so far and have a wonderful productive summer. I will see you all at the Roseville Blast.

Louise Oleson

The Long Beach Mineral and Gem Society would like to honor Louise Oleson as our outstanding Rockhound of the Year. She has worn many hats since joining the club many years ago. Whenever there was a 'need' Louise was there. Throughout the years she has served as Treasurer, Trip Coordinator, Editor of the News Bulletin, Chairman of the Nominating Committee and has obtained Program Speakers. Many times she wore 3 or more hats at the same time! When the workshop manager became ill Louise took over that job, too. Presently she is updating her computer skills to continue assisting our club. We owe MANY thanks to Louise for the years she has devoted her time, effort and services to benefit our organization.
Submitted by Shirley Williams

Bill & Izzie Burns

I would like to nominate Bill & Izzie Burns as members of North Orange County Gem & Mineral Society for the Education Through Sharing Award. They have dedicated themselves to the world of rockhounding. They have each served as multiple officers in their local clubs, CFMS, AFMS. Izzie had a dream and Bill helped her fulfill it. The dream was called ZZYZX and that has grown to include Camp Paradise. They have initiated memorandums of understanding to save collecting sites for all of us and if that isn't enough they work the polls on Election Day.
Proudly submitted by Loretta Ogden, Federation Director, NOCGMS

Program Aids

By Cheri George, Program Aids Chairman

Hello from your Program Aids Chairman!! Spring is here!! I hope there are little flowers blooming all over the Golden State. You just have to check out the poppy fields in Lancaster to see what a wonderful job Mother Nature did of keeping our state green and golden. I have not had any new submissions for the Program Aides brochure since it was published early last year, I had been hoping for some more new suggestions. I had two and neither of them has answered my letter of inquiry. I will not give up, I have another letter going to them as I write.

It is going to be a busy year for me, as I look forward to having some surgery on my knee finally!! And that could pt a damper on my getting around to the places I like to go. It is not an absolute at this time, but only the Orthopedist knows for sure. I am looking forward to entering the competition at the CFMS show and being there with bells on, so he will have to schedule me after that. If you have had a wonderful program, whose presenter has not appeared in the latest edition of the Podium People Brochure and is willing to become a Podium Person, please let me know. I look forward to your submissions.
Until we meet again•  •  .

Traffic Safety - Part 1
Children and Traffic Safety

By Chuck McKie, Safety Chair

Traffic related incidents account for more than one-third of the fatalities in children less than 14 years of age. According to the Department of Transportation, more than 1,000 children die each year as pedestrians. A common myth is that pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way. Pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks and designated pedestrian crossings with signals. Many pedestrian-vehicle incidents are the fault of the pedestrian. It is important for children and adults to learn safe pedestrian skills. Knowing the correct way to walk near traffic and how to cross the street is vital to a person's health and well being. With adult supervision, a child's ability to deal with traffic can improve dramatically. Several factors make children susceptible to car/pedestrian incidents. Among them, children:

  • Have a lower profile in traffic
  • Have a narrower field of view
  • Cannot detect the direction of sound
  • Cannot accurately judge the approach of vehicles
  • Once in motion, like to stay in motion
  • Mix fantasy with reality
  • Often only concentrate on one thought at a time
  • Are restless

The most common cause of pedestrian incidents involving children occurs when they dash out into the street at mid-block, for example, to chase a ball, or when they run through an intersection. Each year Fire Departments respond to thousands of incidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles and diesel trucks. Most of these involve collisions at the intersections of large surface streets. Many children are injured or killed because they ride unrestrained in a vehicle. More than 75 percent of these incidents could have been prevented by the use of correctly worn seat belts or approved child safety seats. More than 5,000 children die each year as passengers in vehicular crashes. In many cases, no safety belt was worn and the child was sitting on the front seat during a short trip. In some cases, a child was riding unrestrained in back of an open pickup truck bed or camper. Children must understand the importance of seat belt use. In fact, it's the law! Putting on a seat belt should become a routine habit. While there are a variety of reasons why people don't use seat belts, most are based on misconceptions and fallacies.

We can expect to be in a car crash once every 10 years, and a serious one every 20 years. At some point in their life, 85 percent of the population will be involved in a serious car crash. The forces involved are horrendous. A 150 pound person exerts a force of more than two tons in a 30 mile per hour collision. Yet, seat belts can reduce injuries and medical costs by 50 percent. Proper use of the seat belt and shoulder strap is important. When using a seat belt, make sure to hear the "click" when you buckle-up. The seat belt and shoulder strap should be positioned snugly across the hips and shoulders. A seat belt incorrectly positioned above the hips may result in serious injury to abdominal organs in an accident. Likewise, the shoulder strap should be placed directly over the shoulder. Otherwise, a neck injury may result during a collision. Finally, avoid excessive slack in the belt.

Children should never share the use of a seat belt and they should not take their seat belts off until the vehicle has come to a complete stop. They should never sit in anyone's lap in a moving vehicle. A child sitting in someone's lap is the single, most dangerous place to be in a crash. It is impossible to hold them in a collision. Protective car seats should be used from the first time the child is in a car until they are big enough to use an adult seat belt properly. Age appropriate car seats and snug straps are available. It is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for correct use. Infant safety seats are designed to face the rear of the vehicle. Always check the seat to ensure that the harness and belt are snug and secure. If a vehicle is equipped with a passenger side air bag, place the infant safety seat rear-facing in the back seat of the car. Do not use infant seats in the front seat of vehicles with passenger side air bags. Some models of infant carriers convert to safety seats. Some carriers convert to infant safety seats while others convert to convertible safety seats. The convertible safety seats can be used from birth until the child weighs about 40 pounds. Make sure to follow manufacturer instructions, especially if they require a top tether strap to be secured. This strap should be secured to the rear seat belt when used in the front seat. If you do not plan to properly tether the strap every time you transport the child, don't purchase this type of seat.

For children weighing more than 20 pounds and who can sit up, toddler seats can be used. Some of these types also require a tether strap for complete security. As a child gets older, he can be placed in an approved booster seat, which is designed to fill the gap between a child seat and regular use of a seat belt. Make sure to use booster seats with upper torso support, either by using a lap and shoulder belt, or by using the body harness supplied by the manufacturer. Both toddler seats and booster seats can be placed in the front seat of vehicles equipped with air bags. Again, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully when installing child safety seats. California law requires the use of an approved child restraint seat until the child reaches 40 pounds or up to five years of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends their use until the child reaches 60 pounds.

Adult seat belts should be used for children when they have outgrown their safety belts. The belt should be snug and should rest as low as possible on the child's hips. If the shoulder belt crosses the child's face or neck, it should be placed behind the child's back after the buckle has been fastened.

Facts and Figures

Each year 15,000 lives could be saved if everyone wore seat belts. At 30 miles per hour, an unrestrained passenger weighing 150 pounds exerts the force of more than two tons as it crashes against another object. This is enough to kill! Only 61 percent of Americans always use their seat belts when they're driving in their car. Another 30 percent sometimes use the belts and nine percent never do.

Myths About Seat Belts

I don't need a seat belt when driving at slow speeds or on short trips. All driving is dangerous. Fatalities have been recorded as slow as 12 miles per hour on nonbelted occupants. Most crashes occur at speeds less than 40 miles per hour. Of all crashes, 75 percent occur within 25 miles from home.

Seat belts are uncomfortable and too confining. Seat belts are designed to allow motion around the vehicle. They provide plenty of freedom without compromising safety. They are designed to activate immediately should a car come to a sudden halt. After regular use, seatbelts are very comfortable.

If I wear a seat belt, I might get trapped in a burning car or caught in one underwater. Less than one out of 200 traffic related incidents involve fire or water submersion. Even so, you're much more likely to be knocked out and rendered unconscious if you're not wearing a belt. Your chances of escape are better while wearing a seat belt.

I might be saved if I'm thrown clear of a car in a collision. You are 25 times more likely to be killed in a crash when thrown from a vehicle. The force of an impact can throw you 150 feet...15 car lengths! Seat belts also prevent you from smashing your head into the windshield, which could cause spinal damage.

When I see a collision happening, I'll brace myself. Crashes happen in the blink of an eye. It is impossible to prepare for crashes, and the forces generated are enormous.

I don't want to offend my passengers by telling them to buckle up. Most people willingly put on seat belts if someone only reminds them.


Airbags are passive restraint devices hidden in the steering wheel or dashboard of many cars manufactured today. A passive restraint device is one that operates automatically. In contrast, a seat belt is an active restraint device and must be connected to operate. Airbags operate in the blink of an eye and do not obstruct driver visibility or reduce driver control. Several sensors are located in the bumper and front engine compartment of a vehicle. You cannot activate an airbag by beating the bumper with a sledge hammer. However, in a frontal crash, these sensors activate simultaneously. When activated, they expel a non-toxic nitrogen gas, which fills a nylon bag. It inflates like a balloon to provide a cushion to passengers propelled forward by the force of an impact.

A common misconception is that one doesn't need to wear seat belts if they have an airbag. This is not true. They should be used in conjunction with lap and shoulder belts for maximum safety. Airbags are designed for frontal crashes, and activate by the sudden impact of 12 miles per hour or more. They do not provide optimum safety in side impact, rear impact, multiple impacts or rollover crashes. Although noisy during filling, they will not damage hearing. The nitrogen gas expelled is non-toxic and cannot cause harm. When the bag inflates, it can push a cigarette aside, but will not usually affect someone wearing eyeglasses. When deflated, a white powder will be seen. This is talc powder and non-toxic. Once an airbag has been activated, it cannot be used again and must be replaced. This will cost about $350. Many insurance companies will cover this expense.

( From Phoenix Arizona safety info)

Desert Safety Tips

Bob Fitzpatrick, Field Trip Chair - South

Travel in the desert can be an adventure. It can also be a disaster if a breakdown or a sudden change in the weather catches you unprepared. Be aware of the hazards of desert travel, both in winter and summer. Harsh weather conditions can turn a desert outing into a tragedy. Acquire knowledge of desert survival skills. Travel in pairs for safety.

Plan your trip carefully. Tell someone where you are going and when you will return. Stick with your itinerary and let them know when you return. Do not travel in the desert backcountry without taking along appropriate maps such as 7.5-minute USGS topographic maps with contours and specific features. Learn how to use a GPS system and topographic maps and compass before you hike cross county. It is easy to become disoriented in the desert where many landmarks and rock formations look similar.

Dress properly. In summer, layered clothing slows dehydration and minimizes exposure. Good hiking shoes, loose-fitting natural-fiber clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are a must. Desert temperatures can reach over 90•   F and drop below 50•   F in one day. Summer temperatures can reach 125•   F in some locations. In winter, temperatures can often drop below freezing. Bring extra warm clothing.

Carry plenty of water. There are no dependable sources of water within the California desert. A gallon of water per person per day is the absolute minimum that should be carried. When planning a hike, remember that water weight approximately eight pounds per gallon. When the water is half gone, it is time to turn back. Don't forget extra water for your vehicle. Do not ration your water. It will only do you good if you drink it.