Ask the CPST- summer travel, air travel, and heatstroke in cars

This post features questions from readers for a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) focusing on car seats and is made possible by the generous sponsorship of clek who have made their staff CPSTs available to The Leaky Boob community in order to answer your questions and help you keep your children safe. 

Dear CPST,

With warm weather just around the corner it seems like every year there are horrifying news reports about children being left in the car and forgotten in the heat. That scares me more than I can say and I know it can happen to anyone. I work outside of the home and we have a schedule that is different nearly every day with grandparents, my husband, and myself taking turns doing the pick up and drop off for childcare. Everything I’ve read says that changes in the routine can contribute greatly to this tragic accident occurring. How can I help all of us who drive my daughter be sure not to make this mistake? It hasn’t happened yet but I don’t want to be overly confident that it won’t.

Thank you so much.

Sincerely,

Sweating It

 

Dear Sweating It,

Heatstroke for children in cars is sadly more common than many people realize. It is also not just a concern during the summer months, though that is typically when we see the majority of cases. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20 degrees in a matter of 10 minutes, so on a 70 degree day you can have deadly temperatures within your parked vehicle in a short period of time.

There are several things that can be done to prevent a child from being left in a vehicle accidentally.

  • Have a system in place with everyone that is involved in the care of your child.
    • Make an arrangement with your childcare provider where they will call you and anyone on your child’s emergency list should your child not arrive by a certain time.
    • Have the person that is responsible for the child’s transportation send Mom/Dad/Grandparents a text message or make a phone call every time the child has been dropped off/picked up/arrived at their destination safely.
  • Place an item that you will need at your final destination in the back seat next to the child restraint. This could be a backpack, purse, briefcase, shoes, wallet, etc. This will ensure that you open the door to the back seat of the vehicle once you have reached your final destination for the day.
  • Encourage everyone that is at any point in time responsible for your child’s care to institute a “look before you lock” policy. Every time they reach a destination they will open their back door and visually check the back seat.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times when they are not in use, whether they are parked in the driveway or the garage. This will prevent children from entering the vehicle when no one is watching and trapping themselves inside.

These suggestions are just a few things you can do to prevent a child being forgotten in a vehicle and suffering heat stroke. For more information I encourage you to visit http://www.safekids.org/heatstroke.

Sincerely,

Julie At Clek

clek CPST heat stroke prevention tips

 

Dear CPST,

Our family is taking a long road trip this summer for vacation. We have 3 older children and by the time we hit the road we will have a 3 month old. In the past I have breastfed my children on such trips while they were buckled in their rear facing infant seats without any problem but I saw on The Leaky Boob FB page that doing that is dangerous. Is there really a risk to be concerned about? I have large breasts and am able to keep my seat belt on, lean slightly toward the seat (not leaning on it), and my baby can latch on and eat. I was planning on doing this again but now am worried I’ve been hurting my children this way or putting them in danger. It is a little overwhelming to think we would have to fully stop for every feed, 12 week old babies nurse frequently and it would take us forever to reach our destination with so many stops. Of course, we’re willing to, I just am wondering if there really is any kind of real risk to this and any evidence that supports that concern.

Any insight you can shed on this would be much appreciated!

Peace,

Road Trip Mom

 

Dear Road Trip Mom,

Road trips are such fun, but can also be quite taxing when you have little ones in tow that need frequent feedings and diaper changes. Having three kids myself and having taken many road trips with them I can certainly attest to that!

What you have read on the Leaky B@@b Facebook page is true. Leaning over to nurse your baby while the vehicle is in motion puts both you and your baby’s safety at risk in the event you were involved in a collision during the feeding. Leaning over towards your baby place’s the vehicle seat belt in a position where it can not properly secure you in the event something were to happen. It also places part of your body in the direct path of your baby should a collision occur. While it might not seem like your breast could cause your child any harm in the event of a collision, keep in mind this simple rule of physics: Weight x Speed = Force. In using this formula we come up with: 2lbs breast x 65mph = 130lbs of force directed at your baby’s head. That amount of force can cause serious damage to your baby in the event of a collision. It is best to just pull over and park somewhere for all feedings. Sure, it will make the trip take longer, but it will mean that everyone reaches the destination as safely as possible.

Happy Road Tripping!

Julie At Clek

 

Dear CPST,

I am going to be traveling by air soon with my 18 month old son who breastfeeds frequently. I am planning to purchase a seat for him and install his car seat but I’m not sure how I’m going to keep him in it. Breastfeeding is such a great tool and such a comfort to him I imagine he’s going to want to breastfeed for take off and landing which would greatly help his ears and probably the ears of everyone on the flight with us. I want to keep him safe of course, but breastfeeding is a big part of him feeling safe. Is it ok if I take him out to breastfeed on the flight? Is it worth buying the seat, he even going to end up being in his seat?

Thanks for your thoughts!

Taking Flight

 

 

Dear Taking Flight,

It is strongly encouraged that children two years old and under have their own seat on an airplane and are secured in an appropriate child restraint. This practice ensures that your child is safely restrained in the event of any turbulence, or any unexpected emergency maneuvers, required by the flight crew during take off, landing, or in flight. Lap children are at serious risk of injury in the event of something happening during the flight because they have nothing securing them. A lap child can easily be ripped from a caregiver’s arms in the event of unexpected turbulence, which not only can cause serious injury to them, but also potentially injures others aboard the aircraft.

It is wonderful to hear that you are planning on purchasing a seat for your son! It will be worth it for you in terms of his safety and both of your comfort. It is also something familiar to him and a device that he is used to sitting in while riding in your vehicle. He will likely think that he is just getting into his seat for another car ride, but this time with the added perks of sitting next to Mom!

At 18 months old I would suggest utilizing a favorite toy or snack for your son to chew on during take off and landing to help with the change in air pressure on his ears. If he uses a cup, pacifier, or bottle, those would be options as well. Pack games, videos on an electronic device, and a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to keep him occupied and content during the duration of the flight. While in the air and the seat belt sign is turned off, it is at your discretion that you may take him out of his seat for feedings. Should you decide to remove him from his child restraint for a feeding, it is important to return him back and have him buckled in as soon as the feeding is over, as unexpected turbulence can happen at any time. I hope that you and your son have an enjoyable and quiet flight to wherever it is you’re headed!

Safe and Happy Travels!

Julie At Clek

 


Have a question for one of our experts? to ask the expert child passenger safety technician, pediatrician, sleep consultant, infant and early childhood development specialist, fitness coach/personal trainer, IBCLC,  or infant feeding counselor, use this form.

 

 

Julie_LR copyJulie McCuen, Clek CPST Since becoming a Child Passenger Safety Technician in 2012, Clek CPST Julie McCuen has willingly sacrificed her digits and limbs all in the name of keeping kids safe. After feeling inexplicably drawn to learning about weight limits, velocity factors, and Rigid LATCH connectors, Julie enthusiastically entered the wonderful world of child passenger safety to help families install and use their car seats properly every single time.
Despite a few bruises and broken nails, Julie’s fervent curiosity and commitment to safety hasn’t waned one bit. She’s now working towards becoming a CPST Instructor so she can pass along her valuable knowledge and insights to others who are equally eager to learn. When not working with Clek, Julie spends her time raising her three beautifully unruly children who are 9, 6, and 4 with her husband of 10 years.
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