Tag Archives: children and safety

Seatbelts, Booster Seats and Back-Over Accidents

“Children don’t need to be in a car to be hurt by one” is a phrase that has percolated in my mind over the past week. Where we live in Virginia, I see at least one young child in a car not buckled in a seatbelt or safely protected by a booster seat, perhaps once a week. I rarely, if ever, see young children turned around facing backward in the backseat. Often I want to say something to the drivers–in a thoughtful way–but offering free advice about a hot-button issue like seatbelts or booster seats can elicit a hostile response. So we will continue to raise the issue in ChildSafetyBlog. Here, we are probably as sensitive to this issue as many people who see young adult drivers texting or adults simply using their phone, while driving. Yet, in our view, parents who transport children by car without at least fastening seatbelts or protecting them in a booster seat are clearly not using their best judgment.

To be protected very young children should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 20 pounds in weight and a year old. Babies can be vulnerable to head and spine injuries in the case of a car crash, if their car seats are not rear facing. Some parents are concerned that their children may sustain leg injuries if their seats face backward, but thus far, there is no evidence of kids receiving leg injuries because their car seats were facing the back.

We were surprised to learn recently that many parents have actually given up booster seats for children between the ages 4 and 8–even though children can sustain serious injuries without booster seats. Booster seats are especially helpful because the child is raised to a height where the seat belt fits properly across lap and chest. Strapping children snugly in their seats is also a key to safety. If parents loosen the straps for any reason, they need to remember before they go on their way, to tighten them again. One more caution to parents and caregivers is to make sure when you send your child in someone else’s car, that the driver has your child’s booster seat to use for your child. You might even think about purchasing an extra, basic booster seat to use for this purpose.

Back to the earlier statement, kids don’t need to be in cars to be hurt by them. Backing over children is still a terrible tragedy no parent or caregiver should ever experience. The statistics are shocking: Fatal backing accidents kill at least 228 people every year — 110 of them are children under age 10 — and injure 17,000.[1] We have passed the end of 2012, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who pushed back the deadline to publish the new rules for car manufacturers, promised this would be done by the end of the year. The new rules would mandate new manufacturing requirements to improve the visibility behind passenger vehicles and help prevent fatal backing crashes. We want to know why this hasn’t happened? The response of “added costs to the auto industry”-in light of their current profits–is no longer a viable excuse!

Child Safety Tips for 2013

The old year is gone but not forgotten. Many poignant news stories remind us how important child safety is and how we are challenged as parents and caregivers to protect children at home, in school and at play. Our greatest wish is for everyone to have a healthy, happy, safe New Year 2013. Here are a few child safety reminders to help make your home safer:

1) Stay focused on your child. If your young child is at home, keep a close watch. Be on the same floor or in the same room if possible. Don’t spend so much time connected to your devices that you forget your kids are there with you and need your attention, supervision and care.

2) Child proof your home. If you have young ones crawling, climbing and seeking to stand, put things they should not have high up (or lock them away). Cover the electrical sockets and lock the bathroom cabinets. Tablecloths with hot dishes can be pulled. TVs should be attached to the wall–not resting on a cabinet, as kids can pull them over when climbing.

3) Don’t leave dangerous items that might look like edibles about. Children love to put things in their mouths. Carefully put away button or other small batteries, pills, beads, buttons, magnets, and sharps such as scissors, pins or sewing needles, and craft accessories (glitter, glue, glue sticks, glue guns) etc., after use.

4) Make sure to stow away household chemicals and cleaners after use– especially ammonia, chlorinated cleansers, toilet bowl cleaners, bleach, and drain cleaners which can cause chemical burns, eye and respiratory irritations and worse. They need to be on a shelf high up in a lockable cabinet–where even the most curious climbers cannot get to them.

5) To minimize more than one household hazard, dispose of trash regularly. Take old newspapers, magazines and other periodicals to the local recycling area or dump. Dispose of any chemically soaked cleaning rags that can spontaneously combust.

6) Dress young children warmly for outdoor winter play, layering their clothing–but making sure clothing as well as shoes and boots, are not so tight that they cut off the circulation. Kids need to be warm and able to breathe well. Bring them in doors for a juice or snack break when you feel they’ve been out long enough.

7) Pay attention to your children’s exposure to the sun. Playing out of doors is wonderful, but make sure their tender skin is not exposed to too much sun which may cause them skin problems in the future. Keep fresh sun block on hand for those noses, cheeks, ears, arms and hands–even in the winter.