If you’re ever in the unfortunate circumstance of being in an automobile accident with your kids in the car, you can’t exactly race towards them. The only thing that’s protecting you kids in a situation like that is your driving skills (and sometimes even they don’t make a difference) and the car seat that you strapped into the car, days, weeks or even months ago.
What kind of mood were you in that morning that you put the seat in the car? We’re you in a rush, just trying to get it in so you could get in the car and go? What were things like this morning when you strapped your child in? Again, were you in a rush? We’re they in a bad mood, struggling against you to be strapped in? Maybe your seat isn’t as secure as it could be. Maybe your child isn’t buckled in as tight as they should be. You don’t think much about it at the time, but if you’re ever in a near miss or heaven forbid, a serious accident on the road, you’ll surely think about it then….and sadly, thinking about it then may be thinking about it too late.
Here’s a little bit of science for you:
When a vehicle collides with another object - a tree, a wall or another moving vehicle, for example - it is stopped suddenly by the impact. However, anything not held down inside the vehicle will keep moving, and that includes the passengers. This happens because of inertia - Inertia is an object's tendency to keep moving until something else works against this motion. Imagine that you're coasting at a steady 80 kilometers per hour. Your speed and the car's speed are pretty much equal, so you feel like you and the car are moving as a single unit. But if the car were to crash into a solid object, it would be obvious that your inertia and the car's were absolutely independent. The force of the object would bring the car to an abrupt stop, but your speed would remain the same. Your face might hit the windshield, the steering wheel or the back of the seat in front of you. Your ribcage might hit the dashboard. You could even be thrown from the vehicle. Your internal organs, too, will keep moving. Your brain would be compressed towards the front of your skull, and your heart, lungs and kidneys could smash into each other or into bone.
Sounds terrible, right? Well, that’s why we wear seatbelts, and why we buckle our children TIGHT into their car seats.
In case you haven’t guessed, I’m a bit of a fanatic about strapping my kid into his seat, and his seat into the car. Here’s the thing – if your car seat wiggles even just a little bit, inertia is going to keep it moving. If your child is wiggling under his straps, he too is going to keep moving. If they’re installed correctly, car seats ABSORB the impact of the collision. If they’re not installed correctly, or baby isn’t strapped in right, guess who absorbs that collision? That’s right – your precious baby.
As a parent, keeping your baby safe is YOUR responsibility. Please, never rush strapping in your car seat – your car seat SHOULD NOT MOVE when you try to wiggle it. Never rush getting your children buckled into their seats properly - you should be able to stick NO MORE than 2 fingers between baby and the belt. If you can get more in there, it’s TOO LOOSE, and they could GET HURT! Never skimp or take short cuts when it comes to buckling up – the one time you do, you could regret it for the rest of your life.
This little safety rant is brought to you by this sad story from Toronto this weekend….2 babies in critical condition, both with head injuries, because they weren’t strapped in when their car was t-boned. In fact, one of them is reported to have been sitting on his mother’s lap. And that all in the middle of a seat-belt blitz that the OPP is conducting. Not cool, people. Your babies aren’t able to strap themselves in – it’s up to you to keep them safe!!