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Instructional Archive

After a Crash: In Action!

A few months ago, I wrote a post about what to do after you’ve been involved in a crash. Officer Chris Goodwin from the California Highway Patrol provided some great tips, which I recently got to put into action on a cross-country move when my car got hit in the middle of Albuquerque.

Luckily there was very minimal damage and there were no injuries. Still, my adrenaline was pumping, and I’m glad I had Officer Goodwin’s advice in my head.

After we pulled to the side of the road, the first thing I did was to take a photo of the other person’s license plate in case he decided to drive away. (That’s not actually something Officer Goodwin mentioned, but at the time it was just instinctive. As it turned out, the guy who hit me was very nice and did not attempt to flee.)

While we were waiting for the police, I took 360-degree video of both vehicles. I mentioned the points of impact and noted some potential pre-existing damage on the other person’s truck. Officer Goodwin had said that rampant insurance fraud often leads people to claim additional damage, so it’s good to have thorough documentation of everything that is and isn’t there.

As I retrieved my insurance and registration, I found a NHTSA notebook I had gotten (and long since forgotten) at the Los Angeles Auto Show a couple years ago. It seemed quite appropriate for recording details of the crash.

The other driver and I exchanged information, and luckily I remembered to ask the police officer for a case number, because he had almost forgotten to give it to me.

There were a few things that slipped my mind, though. I forgot to video or photograph all the people involved in the crash (though that should be in the police report). I forgot to get the other driver’s address, even though it was right there on his license. (I imagine that will be in the report, too, but that was one of the many questions my insurance company asked.)

The insurance company also asked which police department responded and for the officer’s name. I hadn’t thought to get either, but luckily my husband had observed both. When asking for details of the crash, they asked about direction of travel–something I’ve never been good at ascertaining. I’m more of a left/right person than an east/west. Since the crash happened just before the on-ramp of a north-south interstate, I was able to figure it out pretty easily, but a map would have come in handy, too, especially since the crash occurred in an area completely unfamiliar to me.

I realized that in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget everything you’re supposed to do. I’m considering making a little checklist to keep in the glove compartment just in case I ever need it again. If I do wind up making one, I’ll be sure to share here! (Or if anyone else knows of one, feel free to post it.)

How to Keep Your Baby Warm This Winter

Snow is falling and parents everywhere are thinking about how to keep their kids warm this winter. Some climates are milder than others where in others, your nose falls off from frostbite the second you step outside. There are good and bad ways to go about keeping your kid warm in a carseat and I’ll show you how to do it the safe way here. First, let’s memorize this important tip: nothing goes between your child and the carseat or the harness. What does that mean? You shouldn’t put anything under your child in the carseat that didn’t come with the carseat out of the box nor should you put anything between the child and the harness, like a blanket. Why? Compression. Padding compresses leaving the harness loose and a loose harness means an increase in chance of injury. So, keeping this tip in mind, puffy snowsuits are great in the snow, but not in the car.

 

puffy snowsuit

 

You might think, “OK, so I won’t use the one that has all the puff and fluff behind it. I’ll use the one that has the thin blanket behind it instead.” Guess what? I tested that one too. And guess what? Oy. I was truly surprised because I thought it would be OK. After all, it was a very thin layer, but it also left the harness loose AND take a look at the pictures to see what truly shocked me.

See how my doll’s chin is pushed all the way forward to his chest? I can’t begin to tell you how much that scares me. The KeyFit that I’m using isn’t a big seat, but it is a rounded seat on the backside, so the Lite Bundleme may fit a different infant seat more favorably. But it still is going to leave slack in the harness. Adjusting the elastic that holds the Lite Bundleme to higher up on the back of the infant seat does affect the fit of the doll. The product instructions don’t specify where to place the elastic on the infant seat, simply to place it over the back of the seat. So, it’s quite feasible that a parent could over-stretch it as in the first picture in the hopes of keeping it from sliding off. Hopefully common sense comes into play and the parent sees the chin-to-chest of the baby and knows that’s not a good fit of the product.

 

Instead, if your baby must wear a warm suit, use a fleece bunting over a long-sleeved onesie. Fleece will keep your baby warm, especially with fleece blankets layered on top. Using several thin layers allows you to adjust your baby’s temperature more easily as you go from one environment to another so babe doesn’t overheat or get too cold. Some fleece suits have fold-over flaps for hands and feet coverage too. Carters and Old Navy are good places to start for fleece jammies and brands like Columbia and The North Face have the more heavy duty fleece buntings. Infant seat shower cap-style covers are pretty plentiful and come in all different colors and designs (including some really cute ones!), so you have plenty from which to choose. Remember, to be safest, when your baby is in the carseat, always keep her buckled securely and use layers for comfort. Here’s a list of shower cap infant seat covers:

JJ Cole Car Seat Cover

Jolly Jumper Sneak a Peak Infant Carseat Cover Deluxe

Jolly Jumper Arctice Sneak a Peak Infant Carseat Cover

The First Years Carseat Cover

Snugaroo Fleece Infant Car Seat Jacket/Cover and Matching Baby Hat

Babbaco Babbacover Snuggle Fleece

Kangaroo Infant Car Seat Fleece Cover

NoJo Double Zipper Baby Cover-Up

These are the JJ Cole Bundleme products I tested. The Urban Bundleme and the original Bundleme are the same, but the Urban has an upgraded outside fashion. If you’re going to use a Bundleme product, I’ve marked the safe one.

As you can see from the list above, there are lots of covers from which to choose and you can even make your own. For older toddlers and big kids, there are ponchos. The key is to make yourself aware of the dangers of loose harnesses and to know that during the most slippery driving time of the year, it’s especially important for our kiddos to be buckled up properly. Drive safely and warmly!

 

After a Crash

I’m fortunate to have only been in a few small fender-benders, all in parking lots or on streets where it was easy to pull over. I’ve often wondered what people are supposed to do when their crash happens in the middle of a busy roadway. Do you move out of traffic? Do you stay put so the police can see where the cars wound up, and therefore determine fault more easily?

My instinct, especially as a mother and safety advocate, is that I should try to get my car out of traffic, but is that the right choice?

I decided to stop wondering and called up Officer Chris Goodwin with the California Highway Patrol to get his advice.

“Our number-one priority is safety,” Officer Goodwin said. “Documentation is second.” Many accidents start off as minor property damage but turn fatal when other cars strike the vehicle or people stopped in a roadway.

Here are Officer Goodwin’s tips.

  • If you can move your car out of traffic, do it. If you’re on a busy city street, turn onto a side street or into a nearby parking lot. If you’re on a freeway, pull to the shoulder. If you’re near an exit, you can get off the freeway entirely to find a safe place to park. As soon as you do, call 911 to let them know you were in a crash and exited the freeway for safety. This will let police know where to go and will also document that you’re not trying to commit a hit-and-run.
  • If you’re in the middle of a freeway or busy street and can’t move your car, put on your flashers, keep your seatbelt on, and call 911. Do not step out into traffic! Goodwin said it’s not uncommon for people to start exchanging information right in the middle of freeway lanes. Don’t be one of those people!
  • If your car is disabled in the lane closest to the shoulder or sidewalk, exit carefully and stand where it’s safe (i.e., out of traffic lanes), preferably behind a guardrail if you’re on a freeway.
  • While you’re waiting for police to arrive, get out your license, registration, and insurance information. (And before you get in the crash, make sure you have your most current information in the car.) Goodwin said people often don’t have those ready, and it causes delays.
  • Use that camera! Almost everyone has cameras on their cell phones these days. If you do, put it to good use. While the police are taking statements, photograph all of the cars involved on all sides, even if a side doesn’t have damage. Better yet, take video and narrate as you’re doing it. Take photos or video of all the people involved, too. Goodwin said that insurance fraud is rampant, and documenting damage and the people involved will help keep other parties from claiming subsequent damage or claiming that additional people were involved. When you get home, upload the video to your computer, and burn one disk for yourself and one for your insurance company.

As for determining fault, the police can do that even after cars have been moved. They’ll look at statements from witnesses and the parties involved, and will examine crush damage, debris, and skid marks. “That’s what we do for a living,” Goodwin said. “We’ll dig and dig until we figure it out.”

Carseat Click Tip

Do you have an infant seat that you’re pulling out of storage for another child? If so, flip the bucket over and check out the harness. Some infant seats (and convertibles too!) have 2 harness lengths from which to choose—a newborn setting and a setting for larger infants/toddlers. If you’re like me, as soon as your child is done with the seat, you promptly stick it in the closet and forget about it without adjusting the straps; but, that means that that when you’re ready to use it again for a newborn, it’s set up for a larger child.

The following picture is from a Graco SnugRide manual (but it’s generic enough to work for other carseats) and it shows the 2 different loops where you can attach the harness to the metal splitter plate on the bottom of the carseat. Working on one side at a time, take the harness off the splitter plate and reattach it using the inside loop to shorten the harness. If you have one of the SnugRide models with a higher harness weight (this doesn’t apply to the SR with a 22 lbs. weight limit), you’ll also be able to adjust the harness length at where the leg straps are attached at the back of the seat. Doing this will mean you’ll be able to tighten the harness properly on a noob.