There was one sentence that went through my head a nanosecond before I heard the terrifying sounds of metal crushing against metal, my husband yelling and my baby screaming – “That car is going to hit us and it’s going to hit the side my baby is on”
I looked over to see my husband in shock but OK and I leapt out of the car instantly. I knew I was screaming in hysteria “My baby! My baby!” but my own voice sounded distant, as if I wasn’t of my own body. I opened the car door to find my two month old, crying his little heart out. I immediately took him out of the car seat, put him to my chest and covered him against the rain. I repeated “You’re ok, you’re ok, you’re ok…” I was so grateful to hear his crying, to know he was breathing and the air was filling his lungs. My husband seeing we were alright, went to check on the passengers in the other car and I went back into our own vehicle, out of the rain, where I rocked my baby against me so he could feel my warmth and continued to repeat my mantra until he fell asleep in my arms. My tears were flowing an endless stream of relief that everyone was safe.
It wasn’t long before I found a police officer at my car door. He asked me a few questions. The first he asked me was whether my baby was in my lap when the accident happened. I looked at him, flabbergasted. I told him there was no way that this was the case. He said when he saw me with the baby in my arms he just thought he should check.
Not long after we were lead into an ambulance. My beautiful boy woke and began to smile and coo at the paramedic. My tears of relief swept through my bones as I was told he was alright. Then, the question again: “Was he in my arms at the time of the accident?” I shook my head in disbelief that I was being asked this again. Then we went home and I got the chance to reflect on that very question.
How many times had I considered the temptation of breastfeeding my baby while my husband drives on our long trips? Living in Country Victoria, at least an hour and a half away from anywhere with a colicky baby that doesn’t travel too well makes those hour and a half trips triple in time. As we stop, feed, stop, feed. Thankfully I have a husband who goes by the books when it comes to safety – while I entertained the thoughts of feeding while we were driving, I never mentioned it out loud. I knew it was not an option.
But what if my husband wasn’t there? What if it was someone else I was taking the trip with who was a bit more laid-back with safety? Would I have taken the risk? I wondered. We were lucky. Nobody was hurt in our case. Our baby was restrained correctly in a baby capsule. We had our car seat fitted by an accredited professional. After the accident we bought a new car seat and had it fitted again.
Did you know that studies have shown that almost 70% of all children are restrained incorrectly? And that children are approximately 37% safer when seated in the back seat? That is an astonishing statistic. Considering that *more children die from injury than of cancer, asthma and infectious diseases combined? Each year, approximately 250 Australian children are killed and 58,000 hospitalised by unintentional injuries.
It’s horrific to say it. But it’s the cold, hard facts. And when we think of those precious lives, those beautiful hearts of innocence, but most of all, when we know that we, as adults are responsible for children’s safety, how can we not take every measure to protect them. Because all it takes is a split second, a turn away, or a temptation to make life easier in the short-term which could result in a terrible injury or even worse, a loss.
So, I urge you to take action. Make it a…
Check out your car seat/s today. Are they safe? Have they been fitted by a professional? And if it’s something you said you would ‘get around to’ then do it and do it now, because you never know what’s around the corner. We sure didn’t.
For more information on the selection and use of restraints check out Kidsafe NSW’s Seat Me Safely program.
And you can go one step further and head to http://www.kidsafeday.com.au/about.htm to celebrate National KidSafe Day. There’s some great activities for adults and children alike being run across the country. Head to the site for more details.
∗ Sourced from Australia’s Health 2008, AIHW
I am participating in the National Kidsafe Day Bloggers Competition to support and promote child safety, along with the added bonus of chances to win prizes. All opinions are my own and not those of Kidsafe. To find out more or to enter the competition, please visit www.kidsafeday.com.au