The weeks after Spring Break are always a hard transition in my household. It is like a taste of summer hours - we stay outside until dark, go to bed late, and get up at 7:30 a.m. (which is late in our house!). So when reality hits and we get back to our school days routine, we inevitably have a few bumpy mornings.
One such morning, we were rushing to get out of the house. I had hustled everyone out and gotten lunchboxes and backpacks as well as my own material for a couple of meetings that day. I was headed out of the driveway wondering to myself where the warm spring weather had gone off to when a very stern little voice came from the back seat. "Mama! You don't have your seatbelt on!"
Luckily, I was in the driveway (and we have a rather long one). But it was an instant that I was reminded that we teach our children to do the right thing, the responsible thing, the safe thing and sometimes we, ourselves in our infinitively grown-up distracted way of life, forget.
It's true. I was going through my mental checklist for the day (women - you know what I'm talking about!). I was thinking of whether the kids had everything, whether I had everything, and even whether we were dressed properly for the weather. I was so "busy" and feeling so rushed that I had skipped over thinking of the single most important thing - to buckle myself in. Yes, I had buckled both of the kids in but I had forgotten myself.
Whenever you ride in a car, wear your seatbelt every time. No matter how short the trip is - even if it's only around the corner. In fact, according to the CDC, using seat belts reduces serious injuries and deaths in car accidents by about 50%.
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the US. In fact, one third of children who died in crashes were not buckled up. We, as parents and caregivers, know how important it is to buckle up and protect our precious cargo. We need to continue to be diligent about buckling our kids in every time.
But we also need to be diligent about ourselves. Motor vehicle crashes are also a leading cause of death for people ages 5 to 34. And, not surprisingly, seat belt use is the single most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries. We know this for our kids and we do something about it. We should do the same for ourselves.
Just as important as buckling up every time is wearing your seatbelt correctly. Did you know there was a correct way to wear a seatbelt?
• The lap (lower) part of the belt should be sitting low and tight across the upper part of your hips. It should never go across the upper half of your belly.
• The shoulder part of the seatbelt should fit snugly across your chest and shoulder, not under your arm or across your neck or face.
So before you adjust the A/C or the radio, buckle yourself in. Every time. It's so simple yet so important - my 4 year old could tell you that.
Hosanna Fletcher has a Masters in Public Health, another in Sociology, and has worked on a variety of community development projects, led training sessions for Lay Health Advisors, conducted and evaluated health risk assessments, and designed and implemented employee wellness programs. Hosanna and her husband Kevin, a Newton County native, have been married for 15 years this October. They have two children - Miranda, 11, and Thomas, 3.