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Carseat Inflicted Injuries

first aidWe all know that car seats help prevent injuries in kids. Anyone who has installed a few also knows they tend to cause injuries in the adults who are installing them. Broken nails, scraped knuckles, smashed toes, bruised shins: I’ve had them all, and then some. Today was a first, though.

I was carrying a boxed car seat through the house and needed to hoist it up to clear a kitchen chair and a serving cart. Somehow I lost my grip and the box slipped out of my hands. Luckily it only fell an inch or two onto the chair and cart I was trying to avoid, but when my hands slipped off, they also flew up…into my face. One of my finger nails jabbed my nose, leaving an unsightly and rather painful gouge.

scratch 5

So, tell us: What unusual carseat-related injuries have you endured?

Male Drivers. Ugh.

So the light ahead had just turned red.  There are already some cars stopping in front of me.  I’m a few hundred yards off, starting to coast.  The guy behind me decides it’s a great time to tailgate me because now I’m only doing the speed limit and slowing down for the red signal.  It only lasts a few seconds, as he floors it and zooms into the left lane once he has enough room.  Engine strained to the maximum, he has barely enough time to cut back in front of me and jam on the brakes of his manly PT Cruiser to stop for the light.  Whatevs.  Glad I wasn’t turning right, because he blocked the entrance to that lane as well.

For icing on his big boy cake, he decides to make eye contact in his mirror, just to make sure that I realize that he has more testosterone than me, apparently.  I give him a very polite golf clap, to recognize his grand accomplishment of wasting gas and brake pads in order to wait one car farther up at the light.  To be fair, that may have been the high point of his day, so I suppose I should have just let him enjoy it.  Instead, he opted to increase his testosterone levels even more with a single digit gesture.  I smiled and snickered to myself as we waited a few more seconds for the light to finally turn green.  He did manage to weave around a couple more drivers who were only doing a little over the 35 mph speed limit in the residential area, before he got stuck at the next light.   I had to turn, but I hoped he’d finally make a green light and have a special moment enjoying his thrill of the week!  Maybe I just need to have my testosterone checked?  And now that Illinois has just issued concealed carry permits, I suppose there should be no more golf claps for road ragers in the future…

Puffy coats, bad. Frost bite, also bad.

IMG_3976 (2)Seven degrees Fahrenheit with a windchill of negative 11°. That’s the weather outside as I type this post, and overnight, the windchill will fall to -30°. I know puffy coats and carseats don’t mix, but I also know that weather this cold isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s potentially dangerous.  What’s a safety-conscious mom to do? How do you balance protection from cold and protection from the very real risk of car crashes, now increased by the terrible driving conditions that accompany ice and snow?

The answer is layers! Think about the four ways your layers can protect you:

  1. Base layer/moisture control. If you’re going to be active enough to sweat, moisture control is critical. If you’re just driving to the store or school, this isn’t nearly as important. (I usually skip this step unless my kids are going sledding.)
  2. Insulation. Long underwear, wool sweaters, fleece pullovers–all provide insulation without adding a bunch of bulk.
  3. Outer layer. From light weight windbreaker jackets to heavy winter parkas and snow pants, this layer helps whenever windchill is a factor and also helps to protect you from snow or rain.
  4. Extremities. Hats, gloves, socks, and boots all play a role in keeping extremities warm.

Here are some examples of what that looks like for two of my own kids.

IMG_0651 IMG_0655

On the left are two outfits for my 6 year old, who weighs a little over 40 lb and rides in a True Fit. The first outfit is a sweater dress over a cotton t-shirt with heavy tights, leggings, and an extra pair of socks. The second outfit is a sweatshirt over a waffle knit shirt, heavy tights and thin leggings under blue jeans, and socks.

The outfit on the right came from my 10 year old’s wardrobe. She uses a Clek booster in the car. She has a t-shirt under a turtleneck sweater, and jeans over tights and long underwear with socks. Yes, the long johns are bright red, but no one is going to see them under jeans and socks.

Before we leave the house, they’ll put on hat and gloves. One of my favorite tricks is to wear a pair of stretchy, one-size-fits-all gloves under a pair of thicker gloves or mittens. Not only do layers mean warmth, but if you have to take off the thick pair to do something, the thin pair helps keep your hands from getting cold quite as fast. Boots provide insulation and resistance to water, including melted snow.

Finally, they do wear coats. To help reduce the bulk between them and the harness/seatbelt, I have them unzip before buckling up.

Good News, Bad News – Latest Report from the CDC

First the good news: Child deaths from motor vehicle crashes have decreased by 43% in the past decade. This is fantastic news and definitely worth celebrating.

children-deaths_570px (2)However, there’s still room for improvement. Motor vehicle crashes are still the #1 cause of death for American children, and the data from the CDC’s latest report shows that 1/3 of the children who died were unrestrained. Proper restraint significantly reduces the risk of death, so the best thing parents can do to protect their kids is to buckle them up!

Other points of note from the report:

  • Racial disparity among unrestrained children is significant (i.e., minority children are much more likely to be unrestrained).
  • An estimated 3,308 children under age 5 were saved by child restraints.
  • Infants under a year were most likely to be restrained, while 8-12 year olds were least likely to be buckled.
  • Improved child restraint laws can significantly decrease the percentage of unrestrained children in a state, decreasing deaths and injuries by 17%!

The CDC recommends that children ride rear facing until they are 2 years old, use a forward-facing harnessed seat until at least age 5, and remain in a booster until the seatbelt fits properly. “Buckle up every age, every trip.”

Sources: Vital Signs: Restraint Use and Motor Vehicle Occupant Death Rates Among Children Aged 0–12 Years — United States, 2002–2011 and CDC Vital Signs: Buckle up every age, every trip (February 2014).