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Saturday, February 9th, 2013
2 years, 2 months.
Last Saturday morning when it snowed here in Nashville, I snapped a few quick pictures of you discovering the glory of it through the window.
However, those pictures of you didn’t quite turn out as I had hoped.
Instead, they could easily be filed under the categories of “safety hazard” or “a mess to be made.”
Without an explanation, the picture to the right looks like I just let you regularly pretend to strangle yourself with the strings from the window blinds.
In reality, the exact second this picture was shot was the only time you’ve ever put the strings from the window blinds close to your neck.
The main reason you I’ve never let you play with the window blinds is explained in the picture below.
Not only do I not want you to hurt yourself, but I don’t want you to learn that it’s okay to play with something that could easily turn into a big mess, or more importantly, something that could break and be so expensive to fix.
(Those blinds throughout our townhouse costed us a total of $500 for the 3 windows we have, by the time they were installed.)
Trust me, I don’t want to be a stick in the mud parent who is telling you “no” anytime you try to do something new.
I want you to be curious and adventurous. You are a little boy. You’re basically wired to discover fun new things on a regular basis.
But as your dad, I have to constantly be asking myself, “Is this a safety hazard?” and “Will this make a big expensive mess that I’ll have to clean up and pay for?”
Speaking of snow, it reminds me of when I was a kid in school and the Superintendent would have to make the call very early that morning on whether or not school would be cancelled because of snowy or icy weather.
If he cancelled school, and the weather ended up not being as bad as everyone thought it would be, then it could make it look like he jumped the gun and overreacted.
But if he didn’t cancel school, and the weather really was as bad as everyone thought it might be, then he could be seen as unwise and not concerned enough with the safety of the children.
I feel like the Superintendent. You give me enough reasons each day to have continually ask myself whether I should approve or cancel whatever potential hazard or mess you are about to get yourself into.
Friday, January 4th, 2013
2 years, 1 month.
Winter has arrived. Now each morning I must wake up early enough to warm up Mommy’s car and my car, scraping off any ice or snow from the windows and spraying deicer on them as well.
For the past few weeks, I have also been awkwardly strapping you in your car seat, struggling to get the buckle around your big blue puffy coat.
I never felt confident when I was doing that.
So I am grateful for the fortunate coincidence that this week I got an email on behalf of Julie Kleinert, North American Child Safety Technical Lead for General Motors and Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, asking me to share their Winter Safety Tips for Driving with Little Ones.
As the first tip explains, there is a better way than how I have been doing things. So, lesson learned. This list also brought to my attention some things I wouldn’t have thought about, like watching for sleds or keeping a blanket in the car.
I’m no safety expert, obviously. So I’ll let the pro’s take it from here:
“1. Avoid Bulky Winter Clothes. We know you want your little ones to be warm this winter season, but please don’t strap your child into a car seat with a bulky coat as it can affect the ability of your car seat to do its job. A bulky coat can compress in a crash and create a loose car seat harness, putting your child at greater risk of injury in the unlikely event of a crash. To properly secure your child, the harness straps must be snug and close to their body.
Make sure your child’s harness is adjusted correctly year-round by using the “pinch test,” which is the best way to make sure your child is secure. First, remove bulky clothing and blankets. Make sure the harness straps are adjusted to the correct height – they should be at or just below the child’s shoulders when they ride rear-facing, and at or just above the child’s shoulders when they are forward-facing. Then buckle and tighten the harness straps. Place the chest clip at armpit level. Now pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
2. Ensure Comfort and Safety at the Same Time. So how do you keep your little one warm and safe? Remove bulky coats and snowsuits before putting your child in their car seat or opt for outerwear that is not as heavy like a lightweight fleece or hoodie. To keep your child warm and toasty after you remove the bulky coat, you can use a blanket (or even the removed coat) placed over the tightened car seat harness. It also helps to warm the car up before leaving – those remote car starters are pretty nice and make a great holiday gift.
3. Check your Tailpipe. Before you get in your car, do a quick walk-around and check to make sure your tailpipe is not blocked with snow. A simple check can ensure you won’t have any problems with carbon monoxide, which is dangerous.
4. Prepare for Mother Nature. You never know when you might get stuck in the cold and snow, so always have an emergency bag stocked in your car. Be sure to include necessities like baby food or formula, water, diapers, extra blankets and a spare set of warm clothing. You’ll probably never need it but it’s nice to have just in case.
5. Watch Out for Sleds. One of the great things about snow is the chance to go sledding. And kids will do it anywhere, anytime, often cruising right into the street. That creates one more thing to look for when you’re driving. A few ways to be prepared are to slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones, turn on your headlights earlier in the day if your car is not equipped with daytime running lamps, and, as always, reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
6. Buckle Up. This is an “all-weather” tip. We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every trip. Your kids are safer in a crash when everyone in the vehicle is buckled up.”
Saturday, April 14th, 2012
What the helmet?!
When I saw the MSN headline this week saying “Does your high-speed crawler need a helmet?” I couldn’t help but laugh and feel sorry for all those naive first-time parents out there taking that idea seriously. Then I remembered:
Exactly a year ago, my wife and I actually searched online for one. Oh yeah… that.
I was, and still am, an unexperienced first-time parent in each new stage of my son’s life. Yeah, it goes back to that stereotype about the firstborn child being overprotected.
Needless to say, we ended up not paying the 43 bucks for a “crawling helmet,” but only because back in April 2011, it wasn’t as easy to find such a thing. But now, it’s quite the trend.
There is a demand. There is a supply.
Yes, the “crawling helmet” is smart, sexy, and most importantly, a magnet for hipster toddlers everywhere in America; especially Portland, Oregon… I assume.
As much as I mock the concept now, I honestly believed last year that it was a good idea to buy my 5 month-old a helmet to prevent him from everyday head-bumping injuries.
After all, the house we lived in at the time had hardwood floors. But mainly, we as newbie parents hadn’t yet learned that babies’ heads are durable enough to take quite the banging.
It didn’t take long to realize that 99.3% of the time, when Jack hits his head on the floor, or the table, or the wall, he’s not even clued in to what happened.
In fact, one of my new games I play with Jack is to see how many times I can repeatedly hit him in the head (while he’s looking the other way playing with another toy) with this cheap, thin, extremely light, made-in-China inflatable ball you find in the dollar bin at Wal-Mart.
After about 5 or 6 direct hits to the back or side of the head, he finally looks over at me and chuckles as if to say, “Oh, you’ve been doing that this whole time?”
Sure, my son is hard-headed; but that’s not unusual for young kids.
I wonder now what would have happened had we bought him a helmet last year; had there really been a fresh market for it back then.
Well, I guess ultimately, we wouldn’t have learned a very valuable lesson; that “high-speed crawlers” don’t actually need helmets.
Something else I wonder is if there an official way to get your kid tested to find out if they truly are a high-speed crawler. I predict there will be plenty of poser babies out there who are really just medium-speed crawlers…
Even worse, for all I know, “crawling helmets” are probably the gateway protection device leading to “steel-toed booties” and ”baby bulletproof vests.”
If only crawling helmets were pitched on the TV show Shark Tank. I would love to see that episode:
“As a toddler, I jumped off the couch onto the hardwood floor headfirst and not only did I not bleed, but I turned out smart enough to make it here. So for that reason, I’m out.”
Monday, February 6th, 2012
Despite how much I truly love my son with all my heart, I may be putting him in danger everyday. But how?
Well, it’s just that I’m not completely convinced I installed my son’s car seat properly into my car. I mean, I think I did it right, but now I’m not so sure.
I know I can take my car to any fire station and a firefighter can show me how to correctly strap our son’s car seat into my car. Yet I haven’t got around to it.
To be perfectly honest, I feel kind of ashamed and embarrassed going to the big strong firefighter so he can help out this seemingly pathetic dad who can’t even put his own son’s car seat in the right way.
In other words, I’ve been letting pride get in the way of my son’s safety. Smart trade-off, huh?
Last week, a study was released showing how more than 30% of parents do not enforce the rule of booster seats when their kids are with another driver and that 45% of parents do not require their young kids to use a booster when they’re driving other children who don’t have booster seats.
While I can’t relate to this yet because my son is only 14 months old, I obviously am feeling guilty and responsible about it now. So I finally called the fire station, which is conveniently right around the corner from where I work, and scheduled an appointment with a licensed expert to inspect my work.
Soon, I can be assured that my son is safely strapped in his car seat. Finally, despite my pride.
It turns out, my wife went to high school with Jennifer Rubin, the Public Education Officer and Safe Kids Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor for the Cosumnes Fire Department in Elk Grove, CA.
So I was curious about what she had to say about this topic. Here is the wisdom she has to share with us today:
“A recent study showed 84% of car seats inspected had a critical misuse. I wish car seats were easy, but it is hard for parents to know they are getting the best information.
When people become parents, they often go to their own parents for advice. Grandparents can help you with how to get your baby to sleep, what your toddler should eat, potty training and more, but unfortunately they can’t help you with car seats.
Car seats and car technology have changed so much in recent years that you have to be up to date with the latest technology. Even your friends with school-age children may not have the best information.
Make sure you have the right car seat for your child, for your car and for your family. Take the time to find a local car seat tech to help you at safekids.org.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3-14 in the United States. Car seat safety is worth your time!”
So I’ve established that I might be a statistic. What about you? Is your child’s car seat properly installed? Do you know for sure?
Image: Safety belt, via Shutterstock.