Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Keeping Children Safe in the Car

Guest post by Kevin Poon

Not too long ago I came across a blog post that stuck with me. When I still couldn't get it out of my head after quite some time, I realized it's because I felt like I needed to share the information with others, that many people would benefit from the information the same way I have.

The blog post focused on the safety of our children. More specifically, it focused on how safe our kids are when we take them with us in the car or even on an airplane. What struck me is the fact that we all want to think that our children's safety is our number one priority, but how many of us really take the time to think about the amount of their precious little lives they spend in a moving vehicle?

The post, which was on the website for a brain injury attorney in Florida, mentioned one forum the author watched on C-Span. The panel consisted of professional, knowledgeable people with legitimate information and statistics. To give just a sampling of the people on the panel, there was a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a representative from the Center of Disease Control, along with people from the Highway Safety Research and the National Transportation safety Bureau. With people like that, you can pretty much guarantee accurate information.

The opening comment for the forum, which also included a variety of doctors, was "If common sense were a reliable guide, we wouldn't need science."

The blog then pointed out that, even though children are much safer in cars today than they were 20 years ago thanks to improved safety seats, we are still losing one child each week to an automobile accident! That's one child each week of every year who loses his or her life in an automobile accident, with many more being seriously and permanently injured. The writer then focused on one tragic outcome of automobile accidents, which some think is a fate even worse than death: brain damage. The statistics that were then listed are heart wrenching and include the following.

Automobile accidents are second only to falls when it comes to accidents causing brain damage.

• Of the 63 children who lost their lives in 2009, 100% could have been saved if child restraints had been used properly.

• The choices we make when it comes to safety restraints are the main factor in whether our child would survive an automobile accident.

• Because it is habit for parents to use safety seats on infants and toddlers, they have a much better chance at survival than our pre-teens who we don't typically use child safety seats on.

The last fact seems to stick out the most. Our babies live while our older children don't. It's a fact that most traumatic injury is caused when a head hits the windshield or door. Pre-teens are often not restrained properly if at all which puts them at greater risk of sustaining injury.

Of course, I watched the C-Span forum myself eventually. They stated how important proper education is for parents when it comes to car seat safety. This education should include ways of dealing with older kids who can be stubborn and who attempt to negotiate everything. To quote the members of the panel, "Safety is not negotiable."

In addition to all this information, I learned a few quick tips from the new 2011 car seat recommendations posted on the American Association of Pediatrics all parents should know:

• Until they are at least two years old or until their weight and height have reached maximum allowed for a rear facing car seat, infants and toddlers should face the back of the car. This information is from the Association of American Pediatricians and is current as of April 2011.

• It is also recommended that children under 4 feet 9 inches between 8 and 12 years of age should use a belt-positioning booster seat whenever they ride in a car.

Thank you, Kevin for this vital information!

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