Monday, March 22, 2010

I Can't Do It Anymore

Well, I could be posting that "I can't do it anymore" because today is my last day of Draycare. I physically can't take care of other people (along with my) children anymore and still survive the evenings when I don't have #1 here to help me. I have lots of pain in my lower abdomen and down my legs so it is often hard to even stand more than a minute or so. I really can't do it anymore.

But that isn't what I am talking about. I am saying that I can't NOT say something about child safety seats. I have been contemplating this post for months now, but just must speak out.

I think the main reason why this is so important to me is that my first year of teaching I had a class of children who had special needs. It wasn't technically a special education classroom, but it was a class of 10 kids who had failed kindergarten and needed more time before first grade/another year to get tested and see if they were going to be put into some kind of special education.

One of my little guys had a traumatic brain injury that made it hard for him to concentrate/learn properly. Here is why:

When Michael was an infant he was riding in the car with his parents. He was fastened into a rear facing child seat in the backseat. His five point harness was fastened, but the clip was down at his belly level and not tight. When his parents got into a car accident (that killed them both, neither were belted in) he was ejected out of his seat (because the clip wasn't high enough) and out a window that was broken as the car rolled. Paramedics found him and were able to save his life...but his brain will never be the same.

PLEASE check your child's safety seat EVERY time you get into the car. My husband jokingly has called me the "Car Seat Nazi" but being a police officer, he also knows the correct way to have children buckled in, and what can happen if they are not.

Here is what you NEED TO KNOW.

1. Infants under the age of one and under 20 lbs NEED TO BE FACING BACKWARDS. If you can keep them backwards longer, GREAT. The longer your child sits facing rear, the better. Read your car seat's booklet to see how long your child can safely be in it. We were surprised with Little Monkey because he was over a year, but under 20 lbs. and we thought he was good to go, till I read out manufacturer's booklet that told us he was too long for the seat! Go to the website of your brand of car seat at least 2-3 times a year and make sure there are no recalls or anything else you need to know. Also, the straps on a rear facing carseat need to come from below your child's shoulders.

2. Five point harnesses are NO GOOD IF THEY ARE NOT DONE UP RIGHT. I see people I know and love putting their kids into car seats wrong. I hardly ever say anything because I don't want to get into other people's business. I think I would feel worse if they got into an accident and their children were injured/killed. Five point harnesses must be buckled in and the clip must be slid up to the child's armpit level. No more than one finger should be able to slide under the clip/harness between the belt and your child. Their straps should come from above their shoulders, not below. If your child has been using the seat with the clip down lower, they probably won't like the change. Oh well, you are the parent!

3. If you have the LATCH system in your car, use it! Do not use it and the regular safety belt at the same time. To use the LATCH correctly you must put your knee and full body weight into the seat to pull it tight. The seat should not slide side to side.

4. When your child is big enough for a booster (at least 3 years old, often times older) check not only your state's laws about using a booster, but also the booklet that comes with it. Make sure that your child is old enough/tall enough/weighs enough to use it. Make sure they sit upright while using a booster. Make sure that the seat belt is not twisted (same goes with a 5 point harness) because if it is there is a greater chance for injury in an accident. The belts should always be flat. When your child is in a booster the lap belt should NOT be across their tummy, but rather laying on the tops of their thighs. The shoulder belt should NOT be on their neck. It needs to rest on their shoulder.

5. Do not buy a car seat second hand unless you know the person well (and know they are being truthful when they say it hasn't been in a car accident, even a minor one) and you also get the manufacture booklet.

6. YOU need to always be the one to install your child's safety seat into someone else's vehicle. You know your car seat and how it needs to be. If it is a simple booster that sits on a seat, that is a little different, but especially when you are using a five point harness seat, YOU need to make sure it is installed correctly. I own all of the car seats my daycare kids use (except for one, but his parents installed it the first couple of times and I watched closely and have gotten the website that has info on it), so I know what seats each kid needs and how to properly get them into the van.

If your child buckles their own safety belt (which is beautiful by the way when they can do that! What a help!) check it every time to make sure it is on right.

I don't have pictures, but I wish I did of "yes" and "no" ways to have the belts. There are lots of websites out there you can personally check out. Here are some links to moms on You Tube who have the clip in the right place and the safety belt snug enough. I am not endorsing any particular brand of car seat. (I think this seatbelt really could be tighter & the armpit level is for ALL kids, not just toddlers)

Although I hate to offend anyone, I really think that this topic is so important. When I see children buckled in incorrectly, it makes my stomach turn. You never know when there will be an accident. You can be the most careful driver in the world, but take it from us. Stupid people are everywhere. They are not watching, they are not careful.


Cop Mama said...

Excellent points!

This is a good reminder for parents. I think we tend to think if we are using a five point system, our kiddos are safe. But it's so important to remember to tighten down on the belt AFTER they are snapped and buckled in.

Thanks Jenney!

MelArcile said...

Good for you!!! I always have concerns when seeing other peoples kids in their car seats. I'm glad you posted this.

All Things Family For Us said...

I'm pretty vigilant as well! Both Boosta and Bug (obviously since he's only 9 months) face rear in very tight fitting straps!

The Alburger Family said...

I too am a car seat nazi! (Comes from being a peds nurse...) I have seen WAY too many kids in the hospital with injuries from not being properly belted in! Thank you for posting all that info for other moms :-)

As an extra to what you wrote I must add to other readers PLEASE MAKE YOUR KIDS WEAR HELMETS WHEN THEY ARE RIDING THEIR BIKES! I can't even begin to count the number of kids we've had admited to the hospital because they weren't wearing a helmet, even in a quiet neighborhood on a quiet street, you never know what is going to happen!

(I'm also probably the only mom who cuts grapes up into 12ths so that I don't have to take my kid to my hospital because he choked on a grape... and don't even get me started on hot dogs!) ;-)

Glad that you are done with Dray Care, try to rest up before Hannah's big day! Tell #1 hi from us!

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

Thank you for the reminder on this. I'll be going outside right now and checking Emma's seat, because I'm not as good about this as I should be. I appreciate this post!!!