Mom'S Viral Car Crash Photo Shows How Important Car Seats Are
We have probably all been there before: the mom who is nervous about sharing a photo of our child’s car seat on Facebook, scrutinizing it to make sure it passes the car seat safety checklist: Is it backwards-facing? Are the chest clips high enough? Buckles properly positioned? Car seat-shaming has become a real thing. However, one mom is hoping a car seat photo she's recently posted on Facebook will travel far and wide over the Internet to make an important point about car seat safety.
Mom of two Jenna Casado Rabberman posted a photo of the aftermath of a truly horrific car crash she and her two kids experienced — but what got people's attention was the fact that though her car was totaled, her two car seats looked untouched.
Rabberman told ABC News that she had been driving her two young sons, two-and-a-half-year-old Beckett, and Brooks, only 6 weeks old, to get some milk on the way home from preschool when a car slammed into them. Luckily, Rabberman and her kids were unharmed, though paramedics told her that the outcome could have been very different if she hadn't taken the time to buckle her kids up correctly.
"You never think it will happen to you," she wrote on Facebook. "I'm not one to post anything too heavy or personal on Facebook but guys...THIS is why you buckle your kids into their car seats correctly every SINGLE time. Even when they scream because the straps are tight. Even when they complain about the chest clip or being rear facing."
And in fact, Rabberman's photo tells a powerful story: Car seats save lives. After her post went viral, Rabberman later added some details about the car seats, both of which were rear-facing. Rabberman explained on Facebook that she actually debated sharing the photos at all out of fear of scaring other parents or having someone think that she was shaming anyone in any way.
"I never expected this post to be seen by so many people!" she wrote. "I really only posted it for family & friends but hopefully it will save a life by making someone think twice about buckling their child in."
Of course, that's the point. It’s important for all parents to recognize how to properly install and position a child in a car seat and although it can be an uncomfortable topic to talk about — especially on Facebook — talking about it has the potential to save lives.
Here are some good car seat safety tips to keep in mind when you're buckling up baby:
- Place the car seat in the backseat. The safest spot for your baby is always in the backseat — preferably in the middle spot, away from passenger-side air bags. If your car doesn’t fit a car seat securely there, place the seat on either side of the backseat (or, if you drive an SUV, in the second row). One place you should never put a car seat: on the front seat. If there's an accident (even if it's minor), the passenger-side airbag could open up and seriously injure your baby.
- Face it backwards. Experts urge parents to keep kids in the rear-facing position as long as possible, usually until about 2 years old. Why? Facing backward offers the best protection for a baby's head, neck and spine. Kids under 2 are 75 percent less likely to be severely or fatally injured in a car crash if they're rear-facing.
- Dress baby comfortably. Because the harness straps go between a baby's legs, dress her in pants, leggings or tights that allow you to strap her in comfortably.
- Set the seat at a 45-degree angle. If the car seat is too flat, your baby may slide out through the straps; too upright and his head may flop forward too much and make it difficult for him to breathe. That’s why all rear-facing seats have built-in angle adjustors or indicators, so check yours. Your baby’s head should rest at least 2 inches below the top of the car seat. Once your baby's older and has more head control, she can sit at a more upright angle.
- Adjust the harness to fit your baby. One of the biggest mistakes parents make is not adjusting the harness correctly. The straps on a rear-facing safety seat should be at or below your baby's shoulders. Use the retainer clips attached to the harness strap and fasten them at armpit level, with the harness clip at the center of your child’s chest, to keep the straps from slipping off your baby's shoulders. The straps should lie flat and untwisted and should be tight enough so that you can't get more than two fingers between the harness and your baby's collarbone. (If they're too tight and pinch your baby, she'll let you know!)
- Use rolled-up blankets if baby slouches. Many newborns slouch to one side of the seat. If this happens, place a rolled up hand towel or blanket on each side of your baby’s shoulders. Only use specially-designed supports if they came with your car seat. And never place any padding under your baby, since it can affect the safety of the harness.
- Strap in toys, too. The last thing you need when you’re driving is a distraction — a frustrated, whiny baby who's dropped her lovey. So attach toys to your child's car seat with plastic links or very short cords, or get one of those activity centers that are specifically designed for a car seat. Opt for soft toys, too, so that if you have to stop short there's less chance it can hurt her.
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