Child Safety First - Happy Passengers, Safely Secured.

By David Garvey

Published: Friday, February 01, 2013   English | العربية  

Last month, we started our Child Safety First Contest, with support from Babyshop, Oasis Hospital and Kidsland Nursery. As you can see from the photos we received, there are many happy passengers in Al Ain who are safely strapped into their car seats, and those car seats are properly secured into the back seat of the car.

Not only are the kids happy and safe, but their parents have some peace of mind as well, knowing that their child's chances of being injured by even a minor traffic accident have been greatly reduced.

Over the course of the last few months, we spoke with several people who are working to increase the number of children who are riding safely in their car seats, and one of the common concerns they hear from new mothers is that children don't like sitting in the car seats – they will cry when they are made to stay in the seat and aren't allowed to roam freely in the car. Well, as the pictures prove, many children are perfectly happy in the car seats (and a lot of them enjoy wearing their parent's sunglasses too).

Two of the people we spoke with were Jessica Hulsey and Mahria Salsa from Oasis Hospital. Jessica handles the hospital's public relations and Mahria is a patient relations associate, and as such, she visits new parents and expecting mothers in their hospital room or in the clinic's waiting room. She explains the importance of and the proper procedure for using the car seats, and it's especially helpful that she is fluent in both English and Arabic.

Some young mothers here in the city may have no previous experience using the seats, so Mahria is sure to explain all of the essential information. And she is finding that many of the mothers she speaks with are quite receptive to the message. Many have questions, she told us, and on the day of our visit, we saw one young mother, with a toddler and newborn in tow, who seemed especially interested in learning more.

Jessica explained that the information sessions don't just occur in the waiting room or the patient rooms. They also visit other places in the community to talk about car seat safety, among other helpful topics, and these visits include various health fairs and schools, such as the Women's Higher College, and the Family Development Foundation. "It's always an important part of what we talk about with young mothers – for them to know how to use the seats, and especially for them to know how to secure the seat in the car."

Jessica is hoping that these informative talks will create "a ripple effect" through the community, and that regular use of the safety seats will become more popular. As part of their previous awareness campaign, Oasis Hospital were able to give away car seats to new mothers, so that they were ready to drive their newborn home safely from day one.

As part of the second month of our Child Safety First Contest, Oasis Hospital will be giving away two new car seats to new parents. Please see the contest details on page 12.

Lesley Cully has also worked diligently to increase awareness of child safety seats and the use of seat belts, by founding Buckle Up in the Back LLC, which is based in Dubai. We asked Lesley to tell us about the organization and why car safety for kids is so important:

"I started Buckle Up in the Back in 2010, as I was fed up with seeing children bouncing around, unrestrained, in cars. I used to be that child standing in the back of my Dad's car until there was more education and awareness on the dangers. Now, I couldn't imagine getting in a car without all the passengers buckling up.

"Anyone who drives a car should be responsible for everyone in that car. It's not just a vehicle; it's potentially a killing machine. It only takes one passenger not to buckle up to cause serious injury or death. Many people tell me that their car has airbags, so why bother with a seat belt? Those people possibly don't realize that an airbag comes out at 300 mph – hardly a floaty cushion. They don't also realize that it only works when the seat belt is buckled. If it's not buckled, the car 'assumes' there are no passengers, so there's no need to deploy the airbag.

"It literally takes seconds to buckle up, and those seconds could mean the difference between a life saved and a lifetime of regret. Please 'buckle up,' all the time."
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