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“Some words you never heard ‘less you come from down yonder”

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I’ve lived in a lot of areas of the country and one of the most interesting things I’ve found about different regions isn’t the weather or the natural wonders. It’s the culture of language.  I have heard so many awesome things come out of people’s mouths that I really wish I had started a journal of it a long time ago.

My grandparents and great grandparents on both sides were German immigrants, transplanted into the Midwest. I distinctly remember some of the phrases my grandma had. I’m not sure if they were Midwest things or just a “crazy German grandma” thing but I’ve carried a lot of them with me. Bugs weren’t called bugs, they were called millers. I could scream as a spider the size of my head crawled in front of me and my grandma would tsk tsk me and say, “Oh that’s just a miller” and proceed to dump some unknown and probably toxic/illegal substance from a jug under the sink on it. If I was excited, I was “pooping purple stars”. Speaking of poop, if you had diarrhea, you had the skitters. If us kids were being rowdy, we had better calm down and behave or someone was gonna put a knot in our tail.

I’ve lived in the South for awhile now and I’ll tell you that this place doesn’t disappoint if you’re looking for colorful phrases. Obviously we all know about our hearts being blessed. If someone with a monogrammed bag and a Simply Southern t-shirt blesses your heart, you’ve probably done something stupid. I had a bad bout of vertigo a few years ago and was called “Cooter Brown” multiple times. I finally looked it up and apparently Cooter Brown was a fictitious guy who lived on the Mason Dixon line and was always drunk and stumbling around so he wouldn’t get drafted during the Civil War. So I guess when I’m dizzy I resemble a draft dodging drunk guy.

You’re as ugly as the day is long. Something crooked is cattywampus. Oh and farts are real popular around here. When we don’t get rain it’s as dry as a popcorn fart. The daughter of a patient of mine referred to her father with dementia as being confused as a fart in a fan factory. You stink? You could knock a fly off a gut wagon. Not sure what a gut wagon is but I guess I don’t wanna be on one.

Here in NC you don’t ask for a soda or a pop. You ask for a coke. Doesn’t mean you want a Coke. There’s a difference. Besides, it better be a Cheerwine you’re after or you’re a sinner.

I never cease to be entertained. It’s also funny to hear some phrases I grew up saying come out of other people’s mouths and know it’s not just something I made up as a kid. CarSeatBlog is read by people from all over so I’d love to hear some phrases popular in your area! Every region is so different so please share!

 

Don’t Skimp on Safety When Traveling this Summer

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My family and I recently drove from Chicago to Disney World and back. Although some people might cringe at the thought of a family road trip of that length, we kind of like it. Plus, even factoring in hotels, gas, and extra meals, driving was cheaper than flying, and we didn’t have as many baggage restrictions.

As much as I enjoy road trips, I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel some trepidation each time we set out on one. I guess that goes with the territory of being a safety advocate who is all too aware of the dangers of car crashes. We do our best to be prepared, though.

Before this trip, my husband took our van in to have the tires rotated and inspected. We learned that we were close to needing to replace the tires. Due to a few unexpected house repairs, necessary appliance purchases, and lots of medical expenditures, the last thing we wanted was to spend more money on tires. We discussed holding off until after the trip. Assuming the recommendation was a conservative one, we even discussed not replacing the tires at all since we might trade the car in next year.

But the treads were getting close to being concerning, and ultimately my husband and I are both too safety conscious to take the risk, so we got the new tires.

A few days later we were driving through Georgia when we ran into some horrible storms south of Atlanta. These were among the worst storms I’ve ever driven in—the type where at times you can barely even see in front of you. I would have liked to pull off the road, but there were no safe opportunities. Instead we stayed with the flow of traffic (which was thankfully slow) and maintained a safe distance from the car ahead of us.

At one point we encountered a flooded section of interstate. We weren’t able to stop or swerve, so our only option was to drive through the enormous puddle. For a couple seconds, it was like being in a car wash: We could see absolutely nothing and could only hope that we wouldn’t hit the car in front of us (or get hit by the car behind us).

Thankfully no one crashed. After we took a few breaths, my husband said, “I’m really glad we got these new tires.” I can’t say for sure that things would have been different with our old ones, but I wouldn’t want to find out, either.

If you’re planning any road trips this summer, here are some guidelines to follow to ensure your trip is safe and pleasant.

  • Check your tires. (See? There was a reason for my story.) Check the tire pressure, check the treads. Have the tires rotated if they’re due, and invest in new ones if you need to.
  • Have your car serviced. Make sure it’s in prime operating condition before you hit the road.
  • Check for recalls.
  • Pack well. Avoid putting heavy luggage in the passenger area. If you have an open cargo area, put heavier items on the bottom and lighter items on top. Use cargo covers or tie-downs to help keep things in place. On long trips, it’s inevitable that you’ll have some books, toys, and electronics around the passengers, but try to keep items stored when they’re not being used.
  • Make sure everyone is properly restrained. Some people want to turn rear-facing kids forward-facing for long trips, but avoid that temptation. Besides being less safe, it’s less convenient. Kids are more likely to drop stuff when they’re forward-facing since they’re no longer sitting in a “bowl,” and their legs dangle uncomfortably and kick your seat. Plus, rear-facing kids are in a better position to sleep comfortably.
  • Use apps safely. Navigation apps like Waze can help alert you to hazards and unsafe road conditions. Be responsible with how you use them, though: It’s best if a passenger is in charge of anything app-related. We don’t want a distracted driver.
  • Avoid drowsy driving. Some people like driving at night so they can arrive sooner, they can avoid hotel costs, and so the kids will (ideally) sleep in the car. Unless you’re used to operating vehicles at night, though, this might not be the best idea. Fatigue is a real safety concern, especially on unfamiliar roads in nighttime conditions. Pay attention to fatigue during the day, too. Pull off if you get drowsy.
  • Take frequent breaks. I get the temptation to power through and just get there already, but taking breaks results in happier kids and refreshed adults (especially the driver). Stop for food or an exercise break every few hours or whenever the driver needs to. Frisbees, balls, and pocket kites can be fun ways to get out some energy at rest stops or parks, or just play tag or Simon Says.
  • Keep an emergency kit. Make sure you have things like water and snacks, bandaids, and a flashlight. We have something like this jump-starter/air compressor, which also includes 12-volt and USB outlets.

As you set out on your summer travels, have fun and stay safe.

Fireworks Safety: Don’t Let Your Kids Do What I Did.

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You know the people.  They matter-of-factly inform you that your concern about carseat safety is ridiculous.  Never mind that motor vehicle crashes are still among the top few causes of fatal injury to children.  After all, they rode without any carseat or seatbelt when they were a kid, and they’re still around to lecture you 40 years later!  Never mind that nearly twice as many kids died each year in motor vehicle crashes in the 1970s than today, even though there were so many fewer vehicles and miles driven back then.  The truth is that they are lucky never to have been in a crash while unrestrained or improperly restrained!

I can say the same about fireworks.  I’m lucky to have all my fingers and eyes intact.  From bottle rocket wars to making our own homemade fireworks from others we disassembled.  I’d say we were also very lucky none of our houses or nearby parks burned!  So, if you let your children use fireworks at all, please just make sure they are properly supervised at all times.   Don’t let your kids do what I did…

 

Safe Kids has some fireworks safety tips as well.  And some statistics from the National Fire Protection Association:

Manufacturers—It’s Time for You to Step Up

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Emma in NautilusIn 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their rear-facing recommendations to age 2 or until the highest rear-facing weight or height limit of the child restraint has been reached. Shortly after, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also changed their policy to show that rear-facing is safest for kids up to the limits of their rear-facing carseats. While the two policies aren’t quite in line with each other as far as limits go, what’s clear is that at the very least, kids should stay rear-facing to age 2.

It’s been 6 years now since those recommendations changed and I’d say most parents have heard of them. Some want to stick their heads in the sand and pretend like they didn’t hear them because they want their kids to see them eat their mom snacks or because they think their kids’ legs are twisted up and uncomfortable, and for others, it’s truly a new discovery. We have 4 states—New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, California—where it’s the law that children must stay rear-facing until at least age 2, and 5 other states where bills have been proposed in state legislatures to make it formal. This is real.

So, manufacturers, what’s the problem?

Caregivers are getting conflicting messages and it’s confusing the bejeezits out of them. I know—how could this possibly be confusing when we have a 6 year old recommendation and even laws coming out to enforce the safety aspect of rear-facing? It seems clear-cut.

First, I want to say manufacturers have been giving us great seats lately. Really awesome seats! I can’t think of a better time in the last 17 years that I’ve been in carseats that I’ve seen such a great selection and if I had a kid in a carseat, I’d probably be switching them out on a daily basis. The manuals have improved so much too! Sections have been reorganized, color-coded, and written at a lower grade level so you don’t need to have a graduate level college degree to understand it.

Let’s get into the confusion by talking about these awesome infant seats on the market (technically we’re supposed to call them rear-facing only seats). They go to 35 lbs. or 40 lbs. and can hold kids who are no longer infants (see why we’re supposed to call them rear-facing only seats?). A mom who has a 30 lbs. 32” 19 mo old may think that her son is big enough to go straight into a Graco Nautilus because the box on the forward-facing only Nautilus says it fits children in a harness from 20-65 lbs. (and, after all, it’s “the last car seat you’ll ever buy”). There’s no mention on the side of the box, or in the manual, that the Nautilus is not an appropriate carseat for a child under age 2. Besides, after a caregiver has gotten a carseat home and unboxed is not the time to read in the manual that the carseat is not an appropriate model for their child.

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Graco isn’t the only manufacturer. Dorel (Safety 1st, Cosco, Maxi-Cosi, Eddie Bauer), doesn’t put age recommendations on their packaging and in fact, rescinded their stance on rear-facing to age 2 that they had on several convertible models (it’s complicated). Evenflo is in the process of converting their line to an age 2 minimum for forward-facing, but that takes time to trickle down; they say it should be completed by this summer. Britax is the only manufacturer currently with text on the side of their combination seat (harness seat that converts to booster) boxes that says the seat has an age 2 minimum.

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I’m not asking for much. A simple “Recommended for ages 2+” on the side of the box next to the weight limits on every combination seat would cover it. It doesn’t change the company’s overall philosophy or policy and would let caregivers clearly know the seat isn’t appropriate. Similarly, convertible seat packaging could have wording on the side next to the weight limits that says, “Recommended for ages 0-2+, 5-40 lbs.,” “Recommended for ages 2+, 20-65 lbs.,” and so on.

Labeling on the sides of restraints has improved so much in the past several years. Wording has been simplified and bright colors are being used. It’s time to make text on the boxes practical so parents aren’t stuck buying inappropriate carseats that could put their children at risk.