Thursday, February 25, 2021
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Are We There Yet?: Car Safety

Our partnership with HRM Parent now just about six months old we felt this as an appropriate time to speak of the safety concerns that we face as parents with the use of vehicles with our children. In Canada, we are fortunate to have an outstanding organization that is building awareness and lobbying towards improving vehicle safety related to the lives of our children. is a national non-profit child safety organization dedicated to preventing injuries and death to children in or around motor vehicles. A local haligonian, John McKiggan is the Canadian Chair for Kids and Cars Canada.
Here are some of the facts:
Hidden Dangers
: Everyday children are injured in and around cars. Power window strangulations, heat stroke, low speed crush injuries from back overs and front overs are just a few examples of what can happen when children are left alone or unattended in and around motor vehicles.

Heat Stroke Deaths:
A preventable tragedy
Every year dozens of children in the North America die as a result of being left unattended inside hot vehicles. data confirms that more children died in 2010 from vehicular heat stroke than in any previous year. There were a total of 49 fatalities in the United States. There are no reliable statistics from Canada because, until now, is now collecting data to help educate the public about this type of senseless, and preventable, tragedy.

Contributing Factors
A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Even with the windows partially down, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 125 degrees in just minutes. Leaving the windows opened slightly does not significantly slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature attained. There are several factors that contribute to children being inadvertently forgotten by care givers. Most important is the fact that our brains are not keeping up with the demands of our busy lives. The most common factors include a change in one’s normal routine, lack of sleep, stress, fatigue, distractions, and hormone changes. When these factors combine, the ability for the brain to multi-task is diminished. In well over 50% of heat stroke fatalities, the person responsible for the child’s death unknowingly left them in the vehicle. It happens to the most loving, protective parents. It has happened to teachers, pediatricians, dentists, postal clerks, social workers, police officers, nurses, clergy, electricians, accountants, soldiers, and even a rocket scientist. It can happen to anybody.

Prevention believes the first step in preventing these tragedies is to raise public awareness of the issue. The second step is the use of technology that would include safety features that can warn if a child is left in the vehicle. is promoting legislation that would make it a requirement that all vehicles come equipped with an alarm that would alert a parent if a child has been left in a vehicle.

Safety Tips

  • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
  • Put something you'll need like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. We call this the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
  • Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set your parking brake.
  • Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
  • Make sure all child passengers have left the vehicle after it is parked.
  • When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.
  • If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
  • Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.
  • Use drive-thru services when available.
  • Use your debit or credit card to pay for gas at the pump.

Back Overs a Significant Danger to Children
A study published in the Canadian Journal of Traffic Injury Prevention studied injury data from 14 Canadian Hospitals over a 10 year period. Back over collisions involving children under the age of 14 were identified and classified. There were 4,295 child pedestrian motor vehicle collisions reported to the Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program during the study. 148 (3.4%) of the children were injured in back over collisions with 49 (33.1%) of the children involving a car backing out of a driveway. The study found that children involved in back over collisions tended to be significantly younger then in rollover or other collisions. The authors concluded that although back over collisions represented only a small portion of pedestrian car collisions, they tended to involve more serious injuries requiring hospital admission.

For more information you can read: Blind Spots a Big Danger for Young Children or 'Backover' accidents a hidden problem

Child Car & Booster Seats: More education needed.  The Good News: A recent survey released by Transport Canada shows an increase in the number of parents who are using child car seats and booster seats. That's the good news. The Bad News: However, the bad news is that the survey also indicated that some parents and care givers are still not using car seats or child restraints correctly, or in some cases not using them at all! Survey Says… The 2010 Canadian National Survey on child restraint use was conducted to determine whether parents and care givers were properly using child seats and seat belts when traveling in motor vehicles. As part of the study researchers observed a total of 7,307 vehicles with 9,772 child passengers across Canada. The researchers found that 95.8% of child passengers were restrained. The survey also found the 91.5% of the population was using some type of child restraint in a moving vehicle. However, researchers estimate that child safety seats were used correctly only 64% of the time. Almost Half of Children (46 children out of 100) are not properly restrained when driving in cars. In other words, almost half of all children travelling in cars are exposed to needless dangers and risks because they are not properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat.

For more information visit or check out John McKiggan's Interview with Scott Kitching and 570 News

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