By now, we’ve all heard about the importance of car seat safety. Most of us do our best to follow all the guidelines by making sure that our kids’ car seats are properly installed, and that we are strapping them in correctly.
But I think we can all admit that sometimes it feels like a real pain to follow each rule perfectly. We might wonder, Will it really make that much of a difference if I don’t put the chest clip in the exact right spot? Do I truly need to make sure my freezing little baby doesn’t wear a bulky winter coat in the car seat?
One mother is here to tell you that YES, those things really do make a difference — and all parents need to take car seat safety seriously, because you never know when you will be in a car accident. And following car seat safety guidelines could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Elizabeth, a mom of four boys from Minnesota, was driving home last month with her 2-year-old son Jackson. As she wrote in a now-viral post on Breastfeeding Mama Talk’s Facebook page, it had started to snow and the roads became slick. Before she knew it, her car had flipped over fell into a ditch. It was truly the stuff of nightmares, but thanks to a little luck, the kindness of strangers, and Elizabeth’s scrupulous attention to car seat safety, both she and her son came out of the accident unscathed.
“My 2-year-old and I were driving home after being gone for a couple days,” writes Elizabeth. “I picked him up from my parents’ house and left within 20 minutes to make the last 40 miles of the trip. In the time I was inside, it began snowing. Very quickly I could tell the roads were slick and visibility was low.”
Elizabeth explains that she was aware of how treacherous the roads were, and therefore, doing everything in her power to prevent something dangerous from happening. She notes that she made sure to drive carefully at a low speed, stay off her phone, and turn off the radio. But unfortunately, some things are out of our control and accidents happen.
Elizabeth recounts the horrifying moment of the accident in her post:
“About 5 miles before we got home, my car fishtailed and we hit the ditch,” she writes. “I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I think we flipped end over end and landed upside down in a swamp. There was no traffic, I was upside down hanging by my seatbelt and my son was crying in the back.”
Oh my goodness, my heart skipped a beat when I read that! I can’t imagine how utterly terrified I’d be in that situation, especially with my child crying in the back seat.
Thankfully, Elizabeth didn’t lose her phone during the accident and was able to dial 911 right away. She was also able to unbuckle herself and quickly rescue Jackson from his car seat. Soon after, a passerby saw her car and was able to help get Elizabeth and her son out.
The mother and son were able to escape through the hatchback, held open by the concerned stranger. Elizabeth explains they couldn’t open any windows or doors because water from the ditch would have flooded the car.
Totally scary, right?
If you look at the picture of the car wreck Elizabeth shared, it seems doubtful that anyone would have made it out in one piece, but Elizabeth happily shares that she and her son remained unharmed. And she attributes that in large part to how well-protected Jackson was in his car seat.
“By some miracle, we were both unharmed,” she writes. “Jackson’s car seat was right where it was supposed to be and he was right where I had buckled him. No coat, five point, snug as a bug. He didn’t even have marks from the steps after hanging upside down for 5 minutes!”
What an amazing testament to the importance of following car seat safety guidelines. “Without his car seat and its proper use, this day could have been much different for us,” Elizabeth writes.
In the end, she states, “The car was totaled, but the car seat looked as good as new and was still buckled in tight when we went the next to gather my things.”
Elizabeth tells Babble that she decided to share her story to remind parents everywhere that these sorts of things can happen to anyone, so we must be prepared. She says she hasn’t yet made it through the many comments on the post, but she’s happy to see that people are tagging each other and reaffirming the importance of car seat safety.
Most of all, Elizabeth is grateful that she and Jackson are OK. “I could have lost him if I didn’t take the time to check his seat and straps and follow the no coat rule,” she tells Babble. “I know way too many people who don’t check things or do it right because they don’t believe something like that will happen or [that] it’s good enough. I’m so passionate about doing everything in our power to keep our kids safe.”
This mama deserves a standing ovation, doesn’t she? Not only did she do the right things in terms of car seat safety, but she made the choice to spread her important message to us all as a reminder of how vital car seat safety is for our precious children.