Car seats are a hot topic in parenting, but usually we talk about them in terms of the hypothetical: accidents that haven’t happened yet, injuries they might need to prevent. It’s rare that we get a chance to see exactly how car seats operate in action and just how miraculous they are at saving kids’ lives. Well, here’s your chance.
Firefighters with Wakulla County Fire Rescue in Florida recently shared photos from a horrific car accident involving a mom and her two kids. The photos show a typical family car whose back end is mangled beyond recognition, and they’re going viral for an incredible reason: the two kids who were sitting in the backseat came out almost completely unharmed because their mom had them restrained in car seats.
The kids are one and three years old and came out of the crash with only “minor abrasions,” according to firefighters. In a post on the Wakulla County Fire Rescue Facebook page, they applauded the mom for practicing car seat safety and said that without the seats, the outcome of the crash could have been very, very different.
Unsurprisingly, there were still several people in the photo comments who took the mom to task for the fact that her one-year-old’s car seat was facing forward. They were quick to point out all of the mom’s mistakes, including that her toddler was in a booster seat instead of a convertible seat. Wrote one woman:
“Wakulla County Fire and Rescue, you might want to consider changing the wording of your post. ‘Approved car seats’ does not at all apply here. The 1 year old was forward facing in a seat that prohibits FF [forward facing] before 2 years, and the 3 year old was in a booster that requires that riders be 4. Neither was correctly restrained and it’s a miracle that either of them survived.”
Extended rear-facing has been proven to be much safer for kids of all ages. In fact, studies have shown rear-facing toddlers are up to 500 percent safer than those who sit forward facing, which is a mind boggling statistic. I’m a big fan of rear-facing and rear-faced my own toddler well beyond her third birthday. Still, you have to admit that just having these kids secured in car seats at all changed the outcome of the crash significantly.
Wakulla County Fire Chief Michael Morgan acknowledged people’s concerns about the car seats, but told Yahoo Parenting, “The outcome is what we’re concerned about. We commend the mother for having the children in the car seat. If they hadn’t been restrained in a child seat, it would have been worse.” He’s right, and there’s no reason to go after a mom who’s already shaken up from a horrible accident. She did the best she could, and her babies are alive because of it.
If anything, these photos should show all of us the importance of using car seats and installing them correctly, and they should encourage us to seek out as much car seat safety information as we possibly can. Car seats save lives, and the more knowledgable we are about how to use them, the better chance our kids have of staying safe if the unthinkable happens.