How to Avoid a Shopping Cart Injury
Parents with kids in tow welcome the use of shopping carts to contain the offspring as well as the merchandise. But as a recent report by NBC News notes, the convenience of a cart should come with a big dose of caution.
According to a study recently published in Clinical Pediatrics by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, 66 children are hurt in shopping cart mishaps every day. “That’s one child injured badly enough every 22 minutes to go to the emergency room, or more than 24,000 children a year,” said NBC.
Voluntary safety standards for shopping carts were implemented in 2004, and they’ve had about as much effect as you would expect — none. In fact, it’s worse than none. The number of concussions each year resulting from shopping carts injuries to children younger than 15 jumped nearly 90% — almost double — according to data collected from 1990 to 2011 by Dr. Gary Smith, director of Nationwide’s Center for Injury Research and Policy.
“This is a setup for a major injury,” Smith told NBC. “The major group we are concerned about are children under 5.”
Newborns to 4-year-olds accounted for more than 8 in 10 injuries. More than 7 in 10 accidents were by falling out of the carts. Other common accidents were running into a cart, and carts tipping over.
It’s easy for a parent to focus on the shopping if he or she believes the child is secure, but a moment’s inattention can be tragic. “A wiggly baby in an infant seat or a toddler reaching for a bright box of cereal can easily cause a fall that results in serious injury,” NBC explained. “Children’s center of gravity is high, their heads are heavy and they don’t have enough arm strength to break a fall.”
Smith said the lack of stability standards for U.S. shopping carts that have been adopted in other countries is a contributing factor to the high incidence of injury. But that doesn’t means parents can’t improve the safety of a shopping trip. To be safe:
- If possible, choose alternatives to placing your child in a shopping cart.
- Always use using the shopping cart safety belts. Ensure that the child is snugly secured in the straps and that his or her legs are placed through the leg openings. If parts of the cart restraint system are missing or are not working, choose another cart.
- Use a cart that has a child seat low to the ground, if one is available.
- Make sure your child remains seated.
- Stay with the cart and your child at all times.
- Don’t place infant carriers on top of shopping carts. If the child isn’t old enough to sit upright in the shopping cart seat, use a front- or back-pack carrier, or a stroller.
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