Flashback. I’m 7 months pregnant, swollen tummy with (k)ankles to match and standing in an over-crowded Baby City. Moms with crying babies and excited toddlers dance around me and I think to myself “What have I gotten myself into?” I’ve been staring at the Gracco Three-in-one Travel-System for over 40 minutes and I’m not quite sure what to even make of it. “What’s the difference between this one and the one we first looked at? Why are there so many choices? Which one is safest for my baby and how do these clips even work?”
In an instant I am taken from being a calm, excited and hopeful new mom-to be to an anxious ball of nerves. I feel the panic rise in my throat as I feel the weight of responsibly press down on my chest. My hands are sweaty and I feel a prickling sensation rising up the back of my neck. My breathing has become erratic and I begin to hyperventilate. Moments later my husband finds me pacing the isles unable to breath and then it hits me. I’m having a panic attack.
Fast-forward 5 years and I still find myself ridden with anxiety in shops like these. As parents of today we are given so much choice and find ourselves on the receiving end of far too many opinions. Tommy Tippee over NUK, Huggies vs Pampers. It’s taken me five years to sift through the options and sift out the opinions about motherhood that don’t really matter. It’s taken me the same amount of time to understand the ones that do. The no ifs or buts concerning the safety of our children. The non-negotiables of raising kids.
But if I could go back in time and tell that nervous expectant mom to be one thing, it would be this: The only thing that really and truly matters in all the options available to me, is that my baby is safe and that I take every precaution to ensure his safety both at home and in the car. I wish I could confront that overwhelmed pregnant mom and tell her to take a deep breath, ask the right questions and trust the experts.
Here’s the unfortunate thing though: there were no “experts” available to us to really explain the in’s and out’s of our decision when it came to choosing a piece of equipment that could ultimately be the difference between life and death. As new parents, we dealt with the overwhelming task of purchasing a carseat like every other couple before us : we asked friends what brand they used or shop assistant what they recommended and with little research or knowledgeable conviction, purchased a car seat for a newborn baby . And then came the real fun: we spent hours reading the manual trying to install it. How do we know it’s fitted properly? How could we rest assured knowing we had ensured very possible preventative measure was taken?
Volvo’s car safety website states : “Even so, children are still suffering injuries or even dying because of incorrectly ﬁtted child seats, or because the type of child restraint they were using was wrong for their age, height and weight. Or – even worse – because they were travelling completely unrestrained in a car.
The cause of the problem is often simply a lack of knowledge. People sometimes think they have ﬁtted a child seat correctly, when in fact they haven’t. They may think that a child can safely switch from a rearward-facing seat to facing forwards at the age of just one or two years. When it shouldn’t. They may think they have adjusted the safety belt correctly. When they haven’t.
I beg the question then: Why are new parents not informed about the age appropriate stages of safety in car seats? Why are people not trained to give expert advice on all the logistics involved when choosing a car seat for your child. Sure, some of them tell you about weight specifications but no one tells you all the real hard facts- the very facts that could save your child life if you were in an accident.
That’s where #CarseatFullstop comes in. We are a Campaign all about informing and growing awareness!
Had I known the facts I have learned in the last week, perhaps I would have done what is encouraged and kept my boys in rear-facing car seats for two years longer than I did. Yes thats right, Did you know kids should be rear facing until they are at least 3? I know right? Who knew? Here are some other facts and statistics that may surprise you:
1. In an accident, your weight is multiplied by the speed you are travelling – that is the weight your body has at impact. For example, if your child weighs 15kgs and you are driving at 30km an hour – because you are in a school zone or whatever – VERY SLOW – and you hit something – their weight at that moment is 450kgs – the equivalent of a concert hall grand piano. So that’s weight hitting whoever else is in the car or the windscreen or the side windows (most often and very low survival rate, 25% if ejected). Let that sink in for a moment.
2. Most accidents happen closest to home within a 2 km radius. This makes a lot of sense when you think about how relaxed you become in your own environment. Your alert defences come down and you relax as approach familiar roads. This is when you are most prone to an accident.
3. A Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone.
4. .National statistics show that 84% of children in South Africa, travel in cars without wearing their seatbelts.
5 . Passenger deaths in children are the 4th leading cause of unnatural deaths in our country (Medical Research Council) Not to mention all the injured children that suffer injury or disabilities on a daily basis.
6. At the Red Cross Children’s Hospital alone, approximately 20 children per month are treated for injuries sustained in motor vehicle collisions. Eighty percent (80%) of these injured children were not buckled up or restrained in any way at all. Most of these injuries could have been prevented through appropriate restraining.
7 . Car safety seats (child restraints) reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71 % for infants, and 54 % for toddlers.
8. Even in a minor crash, an unrestrained child would be thrown around inside the vehicle, injuring themselves and others. They could be thrown from the car through one of the windows
I will allow you another moment to really let that sink in. Now ask yourself why you would ever consider NOT putting your child in carseat.
I wish I could go back and tell my young pre-mom self that the bottles and dummies and different brands of formula or nappies were really the last things that should have been getting my pregnancy hormones all revved up over. I wish I could go back in time and ask the right questions and insist my children stayed rear-facing for longer than I was told.
I can’t go back in time. But, I can help moms make more informative decisions who find themselves unsure of what the appropriate seat is for their child. I can hopefully create an awareness around car safety by sharing these facts and pleading with you to ensure you take every precaution necessary when choosing your car seats and moving your kids through the various stages of carseat safety. I urge you to use these facts as a formative source of informations and pass it on to any friends who are in the same boat as you.
Let me also say this: those of you who don’t even bother strapping your kids up out of fear of tantrums or disturbing the peace? That my dear, makes you an unfit mother who needs a serious wake up call. I say this with as much respect as I can muster. But for you to wear a seatbelt and not feel that your child should be strapped in, makes me question your role as a mother and whether or not you are a fully capable parent deserving of the task of caring for your kids. There is no situation whatsoever where your child should be roaming the back seat of a car. Unless you are happy for the possibility of this happening to your precious cargo……..
Saying all this, we are fully aware of the disadvantages many face of not being able to afford a car seat which is why #CarseatFullstop is launching their involvement in the country wide 67 minutes campaign today! At Carseatfull stop we believe 67 Minutes isn’t enough, so we are encouraging people to make the world around them a better place by helping families in need keep their children safe by donating the car seats (At any Renault dealership) they don’t use for 67 Days.
“The Nelson Mandela Foundation describes the celebration of Mandela Day as a global call to action for people to recognise their individual power to make an imprint and help change the world around them for the better,” says campaign creator, Mandy Lee Miller. “#CarSeatFullstop is 100% in line with that and we aim to encourage each and every person to make their imprint by simply sharing the campaign messaging with their individual social networks. You never know who might see it and make a change, saving a little life.”
- Non-Profit Organisation Wheel Well runs the Car Seat for Kids campaign annually. They collect second hand car seats in any condition and clean and refurbish the seats that can be made safe, or dispose of those that cannot be safely used responsibly. There are parents that can’t afford this vital investment new. That used seat gathering dust in a garage can be the difference between life and death for a less fortunate child.
I, together with with a group of dynamic bloggers are taking a stand and we would love you to join us! We want a very message to be shared and that is that there are no ifs or buts when it comes to putting your kids in carseats. This message is going to be carried far and wide with your help. So PLEASE every time you see a post like this one, hit the share button using the hashtag #CarseatFullstop. We can’t do it alone.
You can also show your support by using the hashtag #CarseatFullstop whenever you engage with the campaign. Also LIKE #CarseatFullstop on Facebook, SIGN UP for the newsletter, FOLLOW us on Twitter and on Instagram or on Google+. PLEASE Do your part!
#CarseatFullstop is proudly sponsored by Volvo Cars.