Safety Archive

Think Your Big Kids Don’t Need A Booster? Think Again.

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In two weeks my youngest son will turn 8. That means in New York State, where we live, he would be “legal” riding in just the adult seatbelt. But is following the legal minimums in your state really a good idea? You wouldn’t sign your kid out of school on his or her 16th birthday just because the law says you can, right?  And you wouldn’t let your child marry their first cousin at age 14 (with parental consent, of course!) just because you live in Alabama where this is actually legal, would you? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Ditching the booster seat as soon as your state law allows it only means that you can’t be ticketed. It doesn’t mean that it’s recommendable or even safe. Restraint laws for children are the perfect example of laws that really fall short.  When it comes to protecting our “big kids” from the #1 cause of death and injury in their age group, you need more than the law on your side. You need to insist that your kids (and those in your care) continue to use a booster seat until they can pass the 5-Step Test in the vehicle(s) that they ride in.

Adult seatbelts are just not designed to fit kids and uncomfortable kids are at much greater risk of serious injury because they either don’t buckle up at all or they misuse the seatbelt in ways that reduce effectiveness and contribute to internal injuries (see video below).  Unfortunately, even a lap/shoulder seatbelt that is worn “correctly” by a child may cause injuries in a crash because it usually doesn’t contact the strong parts of the body – pelvic bones and collar bone. Very often the lap belt portion of the seatbelt crosses the abdomen instead which can lead to serious internal injuries and even paralysis.

Still not convinced or need help convincing someone else?  Take a moment and check out this compelling video, Boost ’em in the Back Seatcourtesy of the Department of Pediatrics‘ Division of Community Health and Research (CHR) at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Virginia. Funding for this video and related research was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you agree that this is important, life-saving information please share this compelling video and help us spread the word that BOOSTERS ARE FOR BIG KIDS!!!

Summer Summer Summer!

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Yep, it’s that time of year again! My favorite time of year! Summer! Yippee! Jump for joy! The hot weather is here, or at least where I live it is. We’re in the 90s already, the air conditioning has been on for a couple of weeks and I’m predicting a HOT summer this year compared to last year’s mild one. Oh well, I’d rather have a hot summer than a brrrrrrr freezing winter. But that’s why I live in the desert, right?

With the mild weather comes hot kids in hot cars. We warn about this every year and every year someone leaves a kid to bake in the car like a chicken in an oven. We’ve had 2 deaths so far this year in the U.S.

It’s not always on purpose; in fact, most of the time it’s because a child is forgotten. And I feel so bad for the parents who have forgotten their children in their cars because they have to live with that for the rest of their lives. It’s the break in routine, the one day they have to take Sophie to daycare instead of their dh or the one day they’re tasked to bring the donuts to work for the going-away party. So let’s brainstorm and come up with some ideas so we don’t forget our little ones in the backseat when they fall asleep and quiet their non-stop chattering for a bit. We also don’t want to forget about elderly folks either. Sometimes grandma or grandpa want to run errands with us, but want to sit in the car and wait while we’re in the store. Heatstroke is insidious and sneaks up, even when the windows are rolled down.

So for the young-uns, I suggest tossing the cellphone in the backseat next to the carseat. You know you won’t go very far without the cellphone ;). And how about demanding that the daycare call the parents of absent kids? It wouldn’t take long for them to make a quick call each morning and could catch a forgetful parent before it’s too late. What other ideas do you have?

 

NOTE: Less than 15 minutes after I wrote this blog, I turned on the 10pm news and saw that a woman had left her 5 and 6 year old children in the SUV with rolled up windows on an 86° day while she went into a casino. The girls were OK, but very hot; however, mom was arrested on the spot. Wow. Just wow.

Lap Babies on Airplane – A Warning All Parents Must See

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Have you ever experienced severe turbulence during a flight? I’m talking way past little bumps and jolts? If you have, chances are you’ll never forget it. I can think of one particular flight out of JFK on a crazy windy Spring morning. My stomach does flips just thinking about it.

Now think about this – the plane can’t take off if my purse is on my lap, right? And there’s like 3 pages of regulations on how the coffee pot needs to be properly secured. But babies? Sure, they can ride totally unsecured because apparently babies are able to defy the laws of physics on an airplane!

Okay, so we know that’s not true. But have you considered what happens to lap babies when the plane suddenly, and without warning, drops several hundred feet in an instant?  This video from NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) really spells it out. Please take a few minutes to check it out and pass on the information to other parents.

 

 

The FAA’s continued allowance of lap babies is shameful and ludicrous. Unfortunately, many parents will continue to take advantage of this “freebie” because it saves them money. Of course, they’ll have to cough up the dough for the Little Prince/Princess to have his or her own seat on the plane once they pass their second birthday. So what’s the big deal with requiring it for all children regardless of age? Traveling is expensive. Heck, kids are expensive!  But please don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your most precious cargo.  Buy a ticket for your child regardless of their age, bring a 5-pt harness carseat on board and buckle your child in it just as you would in the car. Your children will not only be safe in case of turbulence or (Heaven forbid) in case you have to make a rough emergency landing but they’ll be happily contained in familiar surroundings. And if you’re really lucky they’ll just fall asleep so you can have a relaxing and, hopefully, uneventful flight.

 

Looking for more helpful information on flying the friendly skies with kids? Check out our related blogs on the subject:

Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 1

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2

Carseat Click Tip

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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.