July 1, 2002
Physician encourages travelers to think first about traveling safe this summer
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Enjoying the summer with family and friends should be fun and relaxing, but a Methodist Rehabilitation Center physician urges travelers to be safe, especially during the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Dr. Rahul Vohra, Methodist Rehab’s medical director, encourages families traveling this summer to use appropriate car seats and seat belts for children and to always buckle up.
“Families traveling with small children should always have car seats checked by a certified car seat technician. All children 12 and under should ride properly restrained in the back seat,” said Dr. Vohra.
Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide safety and injury prevention program, has teamed up with Buckle for Life in Mississippi to kick off its safe traveling campaign at the new Wal-Mart in Clinton. Sammy Safety, the Jackson hospital’s injury prevention mascot and certified car seat technicians will conduct a car seat check prior to the July 4th holiday on Wednesday, July 3 from 2 to 4 p.m.
There are several different types of child safety seats:
- Infant Seats. Infant seats are designed for babies from birth until at least 20 pounds and one year of age. They must ride in the rear of the car in their safety seats until they are the appropriate size or age to move to convertible safety seats.
- Convertible Safety Seats. These seats convert from rear facing for infants to forward facing for toddlers weighing at least 20 pounds. Children should remain in a forward-facing seat from 20 pounds until they reach approximately 40 pounds and four years of age.
- Booster Seats. These seats are used as a transition to safety belts by older kids who have clearly outgrown their convertible seat and are not quite ready for the vehicle belt system.
- Safety Belts. When a child is old enough and large enough to "fit" an adult safety belt, they can be moved out of a booster seat. To "fit" a safety belt properly, the lap belt should fit snugly and properly across the upper thighs and the shoulder strap should cross over the shoulder and across the chest.
Lauren Fairburn, director of Think First, says there are other safety concerns to consider when traveling with children.
“Never leave a child in a car for any amount of time,” said Fairburn. “Temperatures inside a car increase very quickly and can be life-threatening in a short period of time.”
Fairburn says that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released statistics showing an increase for the first time since 1995 in the number of people driving while intoxicated.
“We urge everyone to always make safe and sober driving a priority,” said Fairburn.
Dr. Vohra’s tips for a safe summer include:
- Stay in the shade whenever possible, and avoid sun exposure during the peak intensity hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after sweating or swimming.
- Never leave children unattended in or near the water.
- Make sure adults are trained in CPR and life-saving techniques.
- Always stay within an arm’s length of an infant or toddler when they are in or around water.
- Have children take swimming lessons.
“Swimming lessons for children is a necessary life saving tool,” said Fairburn. “ We want summer celebrations to be fun, exciting and most importantly, safe.”