Car accidents with serious child injuries can be avoided, doctors say

One quick and easy step before driving can save a child's life

ORLANDO, Fla. – Doctors at Arnold Palmer Hospital said more kids are ending up in the hospital after car accidents.

But one quick and easy step taken by parents can eliminate the problem, thus keeping kids safe, according to doctors at the hospital.

"It's just, it's easy. You're talking on the phone. You've got groceries. It's raining. You put the kid in the car seat, and you forget to buckle it," pediatric trauma director Dr. Donald Plumley said. "It's just one of those things you've got to stop and think for a minute."

Plumley said in the past 6 years, Arnold Palmer Hospital has seen nearly 680 pediatric traumas in children and newborns, all after car accidents, because kids aren't properly buckled in.

"So I've had two 4-week-old babies in motor vehicle accidents in the last week," Plumley said. "The other one, the car seat wasn't secured right, and it flew out of the car, and the child got a severe head injury. The ones we see, if you're ejected from an automobile, if your car rolls on I-4, and there's eight kids in the back without restraints, then there's going to be a lot of severe injuries, and some kids aren't going to make it."

When an accident like that happens, patients are brought in to the trauma bay with a color-coded chart that doctors are able to look at to see all of the dosing and emergency information right away.

Plumley said usually kids recover, but some have lifelong health issues.

Shelley Jennings is a clinical nurse who helps parents leaving Winnie Palmer Hospital adjust the fit of their car seats.

"They might not realize that (when facing the rear, it needs) to be the height of the harness (and) needs to be at or below," Jennings said of the common problems she sees. "They might not realize that your guide is the pinch test."

The guidelines that are on the side of the car seat only takes about an hour to review, according to Jennings.

"To me, your kids are your most precious commodity," Jennings said. "There's nothing else more important than your kids, that extra few seconds, come on."

Parents who still have questions about car seats can go to the Arnold Palmer Hospital on Sunday, June 25, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and have their seats looked at by experts.