Friday, February 28, 2014

Shopping Carts Injure Children in Record Numbers

Maybe you saw the recent and popular viral video in which a baby falls from a store shopping cart, rescued mid-fall by the lifesaving actions of a store employee. We can rejoice in this, but a January study report warns that many children do not fare as well from all-too-common shopping cart accidents – that more than a half-million children have been treated in emergency rooms for injuries from shopping cart incidents in the last 21 years.

Even more alarming: the statistics show that, even with a decade of operation with voluntary shopping cart safety standards, the number and rate of concussions and  injuries from shopping carts accidents have continued to climb. In fact, today, one child is injured every 22 minutes from a shopping cart mishap.


Background 


The study was conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  They examined shopping cart accident data sourced from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) from 1990 through 2011 regarding children who ended up in emergency rooms.  What they found:
  • More than 530,000 injured children – an average of more than 24,000 children annually – found themselves in an emergency department from a shopping cart incident.
  • Most injuries (70.4 percent) resulted from running into or falling over the cart, a cart tip-over, or entrapment of extremities in the cart.
  • At 78.1 percent, head injuries were by far the most commonly injured body region.
  • The annual rate of concussions and  internal head injuries increased dramatically – by more than 200 percent! – during the study period.
  • Most of the head injury rate increase happened to children under five years of age.
Clearly, the voluntary shopping cart safety standards that were introduced by the federal government 10 years ago are not enough to ensure the protection of our children.


Can shopping cart design changes reduce injuries?


Several cart design changes, whether initiated voluntary or required through legislation, are being considered to improve the safety of children.  These changes include:
  • Elevating performance standards for shopping cart child restraint systems
  • Lowering the child seating area of the cart to reduce cart tip-over by lowering the center of gravity of the cart and to decrease the severity of injuries because the child will not fall as far
  • Creating parental guidance literature or programs on how to safely use shopping carts
  • Using store-wide broadcasts that encourage shopping cart safety belt use
  • Requiring store employees to encourage parents to use the cart safety belts.


How to protect your children from shopping cart injuries


There are steps you can take as a parent to reduce your child’s risk of a shopping cart injury:
  • Stay with the cart and your child at all times and make sure your child remains seated in the cart.
  • When possible, choose alternatives to placing your child in a shopping cart.
  • Choose another cart if parts of the cart restraint system are missing or are not working.
  • If available, use a cart designed to lower the child seat position.
  • Always using a shopping cart safety belt when one is available if your child needs to ride in the cart. Be sure your child is snugly secured in the straps and that the child’s legs are placed through the leg openings.
  • Remain diligent even when your children are not in a shopping cart, but just walking. Many injuries occur when children and carts collide. Especially in the case of smaller children, adults may not see the walking child.
  • Do not let children operate/steer the shopping cart unless you are watching closely.
For related injury prevention materials or to learn more about the Center for Injury Research and Policy, visit www.injurycenter.org.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

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