Monday, January 26, 2009

A Cop Story

This past Friday, I was on my way to a friend's house for a committee lunch. This committee is not for planning something; it's more or less a way to get out of the house for a while and also a way to save some money. The idea is that all the people in this committee put up $100 every month and then whoever ends up getting that money (via a drawing or whatever), hold a luncheon at her house. So if there are 10 women in the committee, they get together once a month for 10 months until every woman had had a turn. At the end of that time, each woman will have essentially saved up $1000.

So anyways, that's where I was going on Friday. I had never been to this friend's house, but I trusted Mapquest would get me there. Well, not quite. I got to the end and I realized that my directions did not tell me which way to turn after taking my last exit. So I turned right and kept going. I soon realized that I was probably going the wrong way but I wanted to make sure. So I called her. I had turned right at a light onto a dead end street and I was turning around while I was on the phone, when lo and behold, I see that a policeman sitting in his car had seen me on the phone while behind the wheel. So he pulls up next to me and rolls down his window. By this time, I had hung up with my friend, (while she was still talking, I might add!), and waited for what this cop would say to me. So he's like, "That's $105." And I'm like, "Excuse me?" He repeated it, adding that that was the amount of the ticket for being on the phone while driving. My bewildered mind thought that he was asking for the money right now. I quickly apologized and told him the truth, that I was lost and I was getting directions. Looking back, I am so GLAD and LUCKY that I didn't pull out my wallet; he might have thought that I was trying to bribe him or something!

Anyways, before we got any further, he glanced in the backseat where the kids were and proceeded to tell me what was wrong with the way they were in their car seats! On Zahra's seat, I had left the car seat carrier bar up and Fazal's shoulder straps were not posititoned correctly. He made me get out and fix that and then he got out of his car and started looking at how the seats were installed. By this time, I was over an hour late for the lunch, but I didn't care. All I cared was cooperating with this cop so that I wouldn't get a ticket! Anyways, he ended up taking both seats out and reinstalling them correctly, telling me horror stories about children being in car accidents while sitting in car seats that were not properly installed. He ended up being really nice and gave me credit for having the child safety lock on the car doors.

Here are some guidelines that he gave me:

-In an infant car seat that doubles as a carrier, the bar should always be down (I think I knew that but I didn't follow through with it; I'll spare you the details of what MIGHT happen if left up)
-There should be a fist's width of space between the passenger seat and the car seat
-The shoulder straps for an infant should come from below the baby's shoulder
-If you use the LATCH system to secure the seat's, put all your weight on the seat while installing the seat and pulling the belt
-For a front-facing car seat, the shoulder straps should come from above the child's shoulders and the front clip should be at chest level
-The car seat should not move more than an inch around any which way

Whew!! I think that was all. He was nice enough to ask me if I had the time so that he could install them right. Well, of COURSE, for my children's safety, I have all the time in the WORLD!
These two are my everything!

I was more than happy to get out of the car and take time to listen to him and have hims install the seats right. I really think that
having a car seat installed correctly is very

complicated. Not all parents, even the very
careful ones, take the time to make sure that the seats are installed correctly. No parents wants to think about the "what-ifs"

But as parents, we must be prepared to take every step possible to safeguard our kids. I know that hospitals will not release you and your new baby unless you have a car seat. But I am not sure how many make sure that the seat is installed right. Just like car inspections are required by law, perhaps child seats should have the same kind of law. You should be required by law to have your car seat checked, because I am sure that in a lot of car accidents, the extent of injuries and even fatalities could have been prevented by proper installation.

In the end, the officer was extremely nice (he introduced himself but I forgot his name!) He didn't give me a ticket and helped me with the directions. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He made sure that those seats were really secure and tight. He may have saved their lives. At least, now I have learned my lesson to be even more diligent in these types of things and be more careful. My little munchkins deserve that...and so do yours!

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