This morning as we were about to have breakfast, I saw this on my newsfeed:
The link sharer is my kababata, so I clicked on the link because people I know or grew up with might have been involved.
Turns out I knew no character in the article—heck, it was actually the first time I heard the “Navacilla” last name—but it’s as though Titus and Mary Navacilla were Randy and I.
A bitter irony
The Navacillas, Titus and Mary, are Filipino nurses in New Zealand. They were travelling in a five-seater car last May, on their way to buy a seven-seater vehicle. With the couple were their two children: three-year old Gabriel and twelve-week old Lexie. A family friend was driving for them. Their number was supposed to have been OK—the mom, the dad, the friend, and the two children in their car seats should be comfortable and safe in the five-seater car. However, their friend’s partner decided to join them. That posed a complication. To accommodate everyone, Mary Navacilla decided to remove six-month old Lexie from her car seat (and stash the car seat in the trunk) and just hold Baby Lexie on her lap. It was the first time that the family travelled that their child was not in a car seat; they knew the value of car seats when it comes to travel safety.
And I’m pretty certain it would be the last time they’ll ever do it.
Before they reached their destination, their car crashed. Mary, who was wearing a seatbelt and carrying Baby Lexie, was knocked unconscious. When she woke up, Baby Lexie was no longer in her arms. When she saw Baby Lexie with her husband, her precious angel was having seizures. Not long after, Baby Lexie died.
A mother’s intuition
The article mentioned that Mary was actually adamant about removing her baby from the car seat to accommodate another adult. She knew there was a chance that an accident might occur, and that Baby Lexie would be unsafe. But she shelved those thoughts aside and probably hoped for the best. The article further added, “The couple blamed themselves for the tragedy but said they felt pressured to leave their baby unrestrained because there was no space in the car.”
Raviv happy AND SAFE in his carseat
Hospitality that could bring a child to the hospital
I can very well relate to this. There had been several times when we sacrificed Raviv’s safety (removing him from his carseat) just so friend of a friend who tagged along at the last minute could be accommodated. I get Mary Navacilla—nakakahiya nga namang i-reason out na ‘wag nang isama ‘yung partner nung friend nila just because of an infant’s hulking car seat. Especially here in the Philippines, when baby car seats are not deemed as necessities. I read somewhere that in the US, hospitals do NOT allow newborns to be taken out when the hospital staff sees that the car where the infant will ride on has no infant car seat. That is the LAW in all US states. I would very much want our government to impose such law, but I anticipate a stream of: “Pambayad nga sa ospital wala, alangan namang ‘yang car seat-car seat na ‘yan pa ang unahing bilhin!” And true, car seats do not come cheap. But really, how much is your budget to make travelling with your baby safe? I assure you, choosing to buy a car seat for your child is worth forgetting that new gadget you’re salivating over. Why?
- In 2000, 248,000 kids in the United States were injured in auto accidents and 1,668 children died. Most of them weren’t properly restrained, which means that car seats could have prevented many of their deaths. And while you may assume that most of these tragedies resulted from fiery highway collisions, the truth is that 75 percent of car accidents happen within 25 miles of home, and 60 percent of them happen on streets where the speed limit is 40 mph or less (lifted from http://www.babycenter.com/)
- Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (aged <1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles. (lifted from http://www.cdc.gov/)
- Car seats cut serious injuries by 45% (lifted from http://www.parenting.com/)
- When used correctly, proper passenger restraints can significantly reduce the rates of injuries and fatalities in children. Car seats can: (1) reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants under age 1 and 54% for children ages 1 to 4; (2) reduce the risk of hospitalization by 67% for children age 4 and under; and (3) provide 59 per cent more protection than seat belts alone. (lifted http://www.cpha.ca/)
The Navacillas’ story really struck a chord in me, and I really want to advocate the use of car seats among us Filipinos. So as to not waste our hard-earned peso, here are some tips that we need to consider when buying car seats:
- Do not buy second-hand car seats. I know it’s tempting, especially because it will be so much cheaper, but the car seat business is taken very seriously abroad. Thus, car seat makers make improvements regularly. The safety that new car seats offer is probably very significant.
- There are car seats that come together with terno strollers. Chances are, this “combo” is cheaper than buying these two separately.
- If you’re buying the cheapest car seat, ensure that it at least has a 5-point harness (two shoulder straps, two waist straps, and one strap between the legs that meet in the middle), side-impact protection (extra foam or air pads at the side of baby’s head), and compatibility with the LATCH system (a way to fasten the base tightly without using seatbelts). More expensive car seats offer more safety features like anti-rebound bar at the foot of the seat that limits the amount of movement during a crash. (from http://www.parents.com/)
- Convertible car seats (which your baby may use from infancy up to toddlerhood) may be more expensive at the onset, but actually cheaper in the long run. However, true-blue infant car seats may offer more protection for an infant.
The best time to buy a car seat
It’s better to buy a car seat as soon as possible. Best if you buy it when you’re still pregnant. To be honest, we only bought Raviv his car seat when he was already about a month old. And I really, really hoped we bought one sooner. For one, I gave birth at Asian Hospital, which was more than an hour away from our home in Los Banos. When we travelled home, I carried Raviv all the way, and I was panicking the whole time. Plus of course, nakakangalay din. Especially because I was still tired from giving birth, and my vajay-jay was painful pa!
Buying a car seat as soon as you can would make it more sulit, ‘di ba? Don’t wait to get into an accident and then saka ka pa bibili. Moreover, training your child into being seated on a car seat early will save you from tantrums.
Actually, I have a confession to make: even when we already bought Raviv a car seat, we did not use it right away. I would still carry him on my lap (and thank God nothing bad happened!) When I realized the dangers of what we were doing and insisted that he be in his car seat, nagwawala siya nang bongga, palibhasa he is used to being on my lap when we travel. If this happens to you, TIISIN MO! I let Raviv cry and cry and cry and cry. I’d rather that he cry because of a slight discomfort, kesa ako ang iiyak sa ospital mostly dahil sa pagsisisi. And our “tough love” paid off, because these days Raviv is very comfy in his booster seat (he has already outgrown convertible car seat)
Still opting to sit on his booster seat even when he’s in my office! Hahaha!
Before I go, I want us to remember the Navacillas’ words:
“We messed it up once and our daughter is gone forever. That’s why it’s important [parents] restrain babies.”
And Mary’s sentiments were no different:
“There is no second that we don’t blame ourselves. It was only once. We’ve travelled to Taupo and Hamilton as a family and we always put Lexie in the carseat. It was one occasion that we really regret. We have already got a life sentence and we don’t want what happened to us to happen to other parents, we don’t want them to feel the same pain.”
The Navacillas actually relived this tragedy to impart to us the importance of putting our children’s safety first before being popular among our relatives and peers.
(Note: All facts I mentioned about the Navacillas’ story were gathered from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/)
Tell me what you think!
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