Everything was very normal, as Michelle was driving, on the day of her accident… until she passed through an intersection, and four cars smashed into each other. Her air bags deployed, and the entire front of her car was destroyed in an instant. Ambulances and fire trucks came and ultimately her car was totaled. She was out of breath and so shaken up, but all she cared about was whether her baby boy in the backseat was OK…
Serious car accidents happen all the time—they could happen to any of us, any day.
Fortunately for Michelle, her son was totally fine. He slept through the whole thing.
He was in a rear-facing car seat, so his car seat cradled and supported his entire back and head during the accident. She’d also had a child passenger safety tech (CPST) double-check her car seat installation, even though this was her second son.
Not everyone fares so well, though. Car accidents are the #2 killer of children aged 1 to 4 years old (CDC).
Still, according to a recent study by Chicco, more than half (58%) of parents don’t know about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to wait to turn a child’s car seat to forward-facing until they’re at least 2-years-old (or they reach the upper height and weight limits of their car seat).
A child is FIVE TIMES more likely to die or suffer a serious injury in a car accident, if they’re forward-facing.
And that message isn’t getting out there as well as it could… that same study also showed that most parents wouldn’t talk to another parent whom they believed was forward-facing their kids too soon (yeah, that’s the unspoken parenting code that says: mind your own business).
TurnAfter2 is a public awareness campaign launched by Chicco, which aims to increase awareness. And, you don’t need to confront anyone to help. Instead, you can simply help spread the word that kids are safest if they rear-face until at least 2-years-old (not specific to anyone). It’s a positive thing. You can even just share hashtag #TurnAfter2. Or, share a picture of your own child rear-facing—maybe it will inspire a conversation.
Dr. David Hill, MD, FAAP—pediatrician, Associate Medical Director at KidzCare and author of “Dad2Dad: Parenting Like A Pro”—is publicly supporting the #TurnAfter2 public awareness campaign, to help spread this life-saving message. He shared his top tips that you (or your friends) may not know about car seat safety:
- Rear-face in car seats until at least 2-years old: After that, a child is still safest continuing to rear-face for as long as possible. They should stay in this position until they’ve reached their car seat’s rear-facing height and weight limits.
- Avoid puffy clothing in the car seat: If a child is wearing a big puffy coat under their harness, the harness may not be tight enough. Instead, you should buckle a child in without a jacket or bulky clothing, then put a blanket over them, as it is safest.
- Buckle up and use the chest clip: The chest clip should be fastened and at armpit height.
- Never leave a sleeping child in the car: Deaths happen every year when a parent thinks their child will be OK in their car for “just a minute”, while they quickly run in somewhere.
- Watch out for used car seats (including used by an older sibling): Check the expiration date, as plastics and materials degrade over time. Also, be sure you know if the car seat has been in an accident (it may need to be replaced).
- Don’t “graduate” from the booster too fast: It may seem exciting to ditch the booster, but be sure your kid fits properly without it… and be sure they’re mature enough to stay sitting up.
Reflecting on her accident, Michelle asked the chilling question, “Had he not been rear-facing, who knows what would have happened?”
The important question that maybe we all should ask though is what if this happens to a car that’s transporting our kids or one of our loved one’s kids? Is there something we can do to help make sure they’re OK? I pray that the next time you hear about a bad car accident with kids in the car that those kids also walk away unscathed.
You have an opportunity with social media to help get the word out. Consider sharing this info, sharing a picture of your rear-facing child, or using hashtag #TurnAfter2. It could literally save a baby… maybe even one you know.
#TurnAfter2 #GetTheWordOut #BePartOfSomethingGood
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Thanks to Dr. David Hill for taking the time to let Mama Lovejoy interview him for this article. Thanks to Michelle (name changed for her privacy) for sharing her true story to hopefully help other families. Thanks to Chicco for launching this public awareness campaign (and for launching their new Fit2 car seat which will make rear-facing until two way easier)—we’re excited to be a part of something that may change lives in a big way.