“Every child. Every time. No matter what”

As moms, we spend a lot of time worrying about our children.

Breastfeeding, vaccinations, milestones, healthy diets, too much TV, schools, discipline…

The list is endless. And, enough to keep us up at night.

But, it’s what makes us moms – we worry, because we want to get ‘it’ right. And by ‘it’, I mean parenting.

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While there’s no right or wrong way to parent (just your way), there are a set of non-negotiables that should guide us on our journey of raising kids.

One such non-negotiable is car seat safety – something that Mandy Lee Miller, local mom and creator of national car seat awareness initiative, #CarseatFullstop, is fiercely passionate about.

Stats say that up to 93% of South Africans aren’t strapping in their kids…

“South African children are dying every day because their caregivers don’t know,” says Mandy.

“They don’t know that a car seat belt can kill a child. They don’t know that the slightest mistake in installing their car seat or securing their child in that seat might mean that the seat won’t work… Most importantly, they don’t know – or fully understand – that a car seat is needed by every child under 1,5m tall every single time they get into a car. No parent should lose a child because they didn’t know”.

Mandy recently launched  #CarseatFullstop’s 2018 campaign on Mandela Day, with #67Facts on car seat safety and South African roads.

The core message of #CarseatFullstop is that every single child in a car needs to be strapped safely into a car seat every single time. No matter what

And, the facts serve as a reality check. Especially for a mom, like myself – who, after having two kids, thought I had car seat safety figured out.

I now know that I don’t. And you probably don’t either.

Take a few minutes and read these 20 facts that will make you re-think car seat safety – and when you’re done, share it with other moms.

We can disagree on many facets of parenting; like breastfeeding, vaccinations and co-sleeping, but one thing we shouldn’t disagree on is our children’s safety.

Like Mandy says, “One share, seen by one person, who straps in one child, saves a life.”

20 Important facts on car seat safety

  1. Your child needs three car seats in their lifetime. Infant seats should be used up to 75cm / 13kg. Toddler car seats should be used up to 105cm / 18kg (4 in SA up to 115cm / 25kg). Full back booster seats should be used until 1,5m tall.
  2. A car seat reduces the risk of your child dying by up to 71% and reduces the need for hospitalisation by 69%.
  3. A car seat that has been in an accident should be immediately replaced – regardless of whether the child was in it or the severity of the accident.
  4. The majority of car accidents happen close to home – one study shows 52% within 8km and 77% within 25km. So “just up the road” means nothing.
  5. If your child is heavier or taller than their car seat allows for (check the orange label on the seat), they are no longer safe. A five-point harness being used on a child over 18kg / 105cm (check label) will likely fail in a crash.
  6. When a car crashes or slams on brakes, the body takes on the weight of the speed you were travelling multiplied by your actual weight. If your baby is 10kg and you’re driving 60 kmph; in a sudden stop your baby weighs 600kg. It is scientifically impossible for you to hold onto a child that suddenly weighs hundreds of kilograms in an accident, within the less than half-second you have to react.
  7. If you use a seat belt over you and your child, they will be crushed to death between you and the seat belt. The force is the equivalent of 30 adults, each weighing 50 kg (1 500kgs or an entire rugby team) standing on your child.
  8. A baby needs to be in a rear-facing infant seat until they are 13kgs or 75cm. This is usually around one year old.
  9. At 40km per hour the blow to your unrestrained child’s head making contact with any part of the car is the same as dropping him/her from six metres (a second story balcony) onto concrete.
  10. An infant car seat can be safely installed rear-facing on the front passenger seat of a car IF the airbag can be switched off AND the car seat manual and car manual both state that it is safe.
  11. A forward facing toddler car seat should be used in the most upright position whenever possible, as this is safest. Seats that offer reclines may be used for sleeping, but should be returned to the upright position when possible.
  12. Rear-facing car seats are safer for developing bodies than forward facing car seats. They spread the crash force over the larger area of the back, as opposed to the force being taken by the underdeveloped neck when the proportionally big head of a smaller child is thrown forward.
  13. An incorrectly installed car seat is NOT safe. Always follow the installation instructions in the car seat manual and look for a YouTube installation video by the brand.
  14. A car seat shouldn’t move more than two to three cm when given a firm shake at the base.
  15. A backless booster or booster cushion is NOT a safe alternative to a full back booster seat. It might protect your child from the seatbelt, but provides the developing body with NO protection from the forces of a crash.
  16. ISOfix is NOT safer than a car seat that is properly installed with a seat belt. ISOfix is said to be safer only because of the high chance of a person installing a car seat incorrectly.
  17. A bulky jersey or blanket between the car seat harness and your child leaves slack that can lead to your child being ejected when crash forces compress the material.
  18. Don’t use belt positioners, covers, inserts, pillows or restraints of ANY kind that haven’t been crash tested with car seats. They can compromise the safety of the seat or react dangerously under crash forces.
  19. If you are able to get more than two fingers between the harness and your child’s collarbone, it is NOT TIGHT ENOUGH.
  20. Have an escape artist? Most kids go through the stage. First check that the harness is tight enough. Be firm, pull over immediately and don’t start the car again until they are secured. If all else fails, invest in a BeSafe Belt Collector

Get involved. Visit www.carseatfullstop.org for more.