KEEPING OUR DAUGHTER REAR-FACING MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
It was a normal day for Jess and her wife Amanda. They placed their precious 8-month-old daughter into her child car restraint and climbed in to do a journey they had done a thousand times before.
“I remember chatting to Amanda as I pulled out of the intersection to turn right on the highway. Our baby girl was babbling in the back of the car. Then suddenly, Amanda screamed.”
At that moment, another car went pummelling into the side of their vehicle, sending them hurtling across two lanes of the highway and slamming them into a tree. Amanda’s scream meant Jess was able to slam on the brakes so the force of impact was slightly less.
Jess recalls the chaos and gut-wrenching noise as the crash happened.
“There’s a particular sound to a car crash. It’s awful. Once we hit the tree the first thing I did was look into the back seat. I was petrified at what I might have seen but thankfully I could hear and see my baby crying and so I knew she was alive. Then I realised I couldn’t move.”
Jess had a fractured pelvis but amazingly, all three of the family survived with minimal injuries. Once Jess knew her baby was okay her thoughts then turned to getting her family out of the car as soon as possible.
“There was so much noise and the car was smoking. The horn was stuck on and I could hear so many people’s voices and shouting but couldn’t move. A kind bystander lifted the bonnet to stop the horn and disconnect the vehicle.”
Thankfully for Jess and Amanda, an emergency nurse who was visiting from interstate and a paediatric nurse on her way to work stopped and assisted at the scene.
After Jess was cut out of the car by emergency services, the family were taken to hospital.
“We were incredibly lucky. One of the firefighters looked at our car and saw that our daughter’s child car restraint was rear-facing. He told Amanda that keeping our daughter rear-facing made all the difference and our daughter would have been either seriously injured or worse had she been forward facing.”
“Just a few weeks earlier we had been told by those around us that we could now turn our little girl to forward facing. There is so much pressure as a first-time parent especially and you want to get it right so you rely on those around you for advice and that advice might not always be correct. Thankfully we knew the benefits of keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible”.
Thankfully for Amanda and Jess, they were the lucky ones this time and their message is one of hope and support for others.
“All we want is to let parents know that they can keep their children rear facing for so much longer than they think. It really can be the difference between a fatal outcome and walking away with your baby safe in your arms.”
Kidsafe Victoria recommends that parents and carers follow the best practice recommendations, including keeping their children in their rear-facing child car restraint until they reach the maximum size limit (as indicated by the shoulder height markers), rather than graduating them to forward facing just because they turn a certain age.
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