I still remember the day we took Beanie home from the hospital as though it was yesterday: checking and double-checking that we’d strapped him in his carseat, the rising panic as we drove away from the hospital and I realised that we were on our own with a newborn now… and then the overwhelming fear as I realised that I could try my best, but there are some things I just won’t be able to shield my little boy from.
Like other drivers. Bumper bashes. Car accidents. The overwhelming sense of responsibility hit both my husband and I like a tonne of bricks, and I’ve never seen my husband drive slower than he did on that day! I don’t think we went faster than 40km per hour, and as other cars whizzed past us (going the accepted speed limit of 60km per hour), we lambasted them for their careless driving. Perhaps a tad much, but if you’re a parent, I’m pretty sure you know the feeling!
I’m happy to say that we’ve calmed down since, but one thing that we’re both adamant about is that Beanie must be buckled up in his carseat at all times. My parents live about 200 metres up the road from us, and on the occasions that we do drive there (we often end up walking), Beanie knows he must be buckled in. I’ve heard that most accidents occur just around the corner from your home too many times to take a chance.
Don’t get me wrong: it isn’t always easy. I’ve made the long drive from Noordhoek to Somerset West with a screaming baby in the back, literally from the start to the end of my journey. Unable to stop on the dangerous N2, and with absolutely no chance of unbuckling him to soothe him. I’d much rather have a screaming baby (and shattered nerves) than have to face burying my baby, thank you very much.
Now that Beanie is a mobile, independent three year old, there have been several times that I’ve had to stop the car to buckle him up again – he’s at that age where unbuckling his seatbelt is all fun and games (to him, at least). I’ve been criticised by family members for not allowing Beanie to ride on the back of a bakkie on a dirt road, but that’s ok. All it takes is one animal running across the road and my child could lose his life. It’s a risk I’m not willing to take. #CarseatFullstop. No excuses, no ifs or buts. Always, every time.
When Mandy-Lee Miller (of Pregnant in Cape Town & Ever After and Tums 2 Tots) first mentioned the #CarseatFullstop campaign to me, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of this campaign. As a blogger, I’m well aware of the influence that I have and how some of my beauty reviews might encourage a reader to try a product they’d never considered buying before. For a while now, I’ve wrestled with wanting to do more – to make use of my little space online to encourage, inspire and uplift others; to make a difference in someone’s life, regardless of how small that difference may be. Participating in this campaign is my way of making a difference. If just one person reads this and decides that they’ll be using a carseat every single time they get into the car from this point onwards, I’ll be happy. Who knows what the future holds – that could be a little life saved, for all I know!
Here are some scary facts and stats that struck me while doing some research for this post:
- 84% of children in South Africa travel without being restrained in a carseat. Eighty four percent! WHAT?!
- The 4th leading cause of unnatural deaths in South Africa is car passenger deaths in children.
- When your car stops suddenly or crashes, your body takes on the weight of the speed your were traveling multiplied by your actual weight. So, in Beanie’s case, if I had to brake suddenly after traveling at a speed of 60km per hour, his little body would take on the weight of 1380kgs. (Beanie weighs 23kgs, so multiply that by 60). There is absolutely no way that I’d be able to stop him from hurtling through the windshield, not to mention the kind of damage that a force of 1380kgs could do when hitting other passengers in the car. I can actually feel a slight panic rise up in me just thinking about it.
- The seatbelt in your car was designed for a male that’s at least 1,5 metres tall – this is not enough to restrain your toddler!
Make no mistake: a carseat could save your child’s life. If you’d like to read up more on the subject, you can download the free Children & Cars Manual, here. This document contains a wealth of information that no parent should be without. As parents and parents-to-be, we happily spend hours devouring countless books on what to expect during pregnancy, how to encourage your child to sleep through the night, or even how to deal with picky eaters – but why is it that we pay so little attention to the safety of our children in cars?
I’ve already donated our old carseats, but if you have an old carseat or two hanging around in your garage and you’re not sure what to do with them, here’s an idea: for the next 67 days, #CarseatFullstop is urging you to donate any old or unused carseats to those less fortunate who might not have funds to purchase a brand-new carseat. Wheel Well, one of the sponsors of #CarseatFullstop, receives donated carseats and creates a ‘seat exchange’, which allows lower income families to receive carseats in exchange for an affordable donation. Each seat is thoroughly cleaned and checked for defects before it’s put into stock. Parents are encouraged to return these seats once their child has outgrown it to perpetuate the cycle.
Why not give back by donating your old or unused carseat to someone who needs it? You can drop off your old or unused seat at Wheel Well at BrightWater Commons, at Renault dealers nationwide, or at one of these drop-off points.
Another way to save little lives? Ensure that you children are in their carseats and buckled up every. single. time – then share any information on the #CarseatFullstop campaign that you may come across far and wide. Education is so, so important.
You can also show your support by visiting #CarseatFullstop’s webpage here, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
#CarseatFullstop is sponsored by Volvo Cars. You can download the free Children and Cars Manual here.