Beware of Leaving Small Children Alone in a Car

August 15, 2013,

In a news story in the Los Angeles Times this week, a man stole a car out of a women's garage with a 2-year old and dog inside. Although the incident occurred in 2011 in Aliso Viejo, the message of children's safety while being left alone in a vehicle even for a few moments is a relevant concern today.

toycar-117663-m.jpgHave you ever gotten your kids in the car, or strapped a baby into its car seat in the car out in front of your house then dashed back inside to grab something for a quick moment? Such is the case of a pregnant Aliso Viejo mom. In this case the car was still in her garage, and the garage door was open and the keys were in the car. Also, there was a convicted criminal lurking nearby waiting for his chance to steal a car. When the mom went back into the house to get her son's sippy cup, a man was backing out of the garage with the 2-year old boy and the dog in the car and knocked the woman to the ground when she started to scream.

The driver proceeded to drive recklessly in an effort to get away, slamming into a neighbor's garage. The Orange County Sheriff's Department caught up to the car at which point the man jumped from the car, leaving it running. The abandoned car hit a curb and the man continued to run away through he back yards of homes. He was caught and faces 11 felony counts and a maximum sentence in state prison.

Thankfully the child and dog were rescued from the car uninjured and were returned to the boy's mom. Many worse things could have gone wrong with this accident. The lesson here is to not leave your car unattended with small children in it even for a few moments. It's not likely that this would happen to you, but why take any chances with your child's safety?

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Swimming Pool Safety in Orange County

August 14, 2013,

Swimming pools are quite common in Orange County. Most families enjoy hanging out by the pool, watching the kids swim and play, or socializing in the back-yard. If you have a swimming pool, you should be aware of pool and spa safety. Older kids sometimes run and jump into the pool or clown around, and younger kids need constant supervision.

fun-underwater-1102059-m.jpgThere are many resources that provide education materials on pool and spa safety, including The California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Toddler drownings are a major concern and children ages one to four years old are at greatest risk. According to the CDPH, "Drowning takes the lives of more California toddlers than any other kind of accident." Toddlers are curious and they learn new skills like opening doors and often wander away from the house. A child can drown silently within a minute or two. You should also be aware that most of these drownings take place at the homes of the parents or family members or neighbors.

The two biggest factors to prevent toddler drowning are these two methods: 1). Adult supervision; and 2). The use of pool safety barriers. Here are some swimming pool safety tips:

  • Around water, children must be kept in direct sight at all times. When supervising a child around a swimming pool or other water, it is not like other types of supervision such as in your living room where you can check on the child every couple of minutes.

  • Never leave a young child alone in or a around a pool, even for a few seconds. That means, don't dash in the house to get something like a towel or your cell phone or some chips. None of that stuff is worth the potential risk you would be taking with the child's safety.

  • Stay in the habit of keeping doors and gates leading to water closed and never prop doors open.

  • If a child is missing, always look first in the pool or spa.

  • Keep rescue equipment near and a phone in the pool area.

  • Use a isolation fencing around the perimeter of the pool that is specially designed so children cannot easily get over, under or through it.

  • Teach children how to swim.

  • Parents, guardians and babysitters should learn CPR skills in case of an emergency.
  • Summer is rapidly coming to an end and many Orange County families are spending time by the swimming pool. Just be aware of the safety dangers to children and takes steps to prevent the tragedy of an accidental drowning.

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    Terrified 10-Year-Old Boy Calls 911 From Back Seat of Car While Dad Drives Drunk

    August 13, 2013,

    It is disturbing enough to think about drivers who are driving drunk, recklessly, and speeding and endangering the lives of everyone on the road, but to drive drunk, recklessly and speeding with your two kids in the backseat is unthinkable. What father would put their children's lives at risk? It happens more often than we hear about in the news.

    speed-1-844621-m.jpgRecently in Connecticut a boy called 911 from the back seat of the car stating that his dad was high and drunk and driving so fast that he was afraid he and his sister (age 12) would die in a car crash. The frightened boy wondered if he should jump out of the speeding car. Seconds after the 911 call, there was a crash and the man hit another vehicle. He rear-ended a Jeep, sending it "hurling down an embankment," according to NY Daily News.

    The man was charged with reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, second-degree assault with a motor vehicle and other offenses. State Police found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle. He was arrested when he failed a field sobriety test.

    Both children were treated at a hospital with cuts and bruises. Fortunately, the kids didn't suffer any catastrophic injuries. The driver of the Jeep that was rear-ended was hospitalized and was reported to be "in fair condition."

    Can you imagine the ordeal the children went through? They were afraid for their lives and stuck in a car that was speeding dangerously and they knew their father was drunk or high. The drugs were in plain sight in the car. The children also had to witness their dad getting arrested and cope with the knowledge that their dad put their lives at risk. Fathers are supposed to protect children, not endanger them.

    News media around the U.S. have picked up this story, and many people commenting on the stories feel that the man gives fathers a bad name, that he should lose custody of the kids (the parents are divorced), be allowed no visitations rights, that the man should have sat in jail a while to think about what he did (he was released on bail), and that child endangerment should have been added to the list of charges.

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    Police Patrol Car Collides With SUV in Santa Ana

    August 12, 2013,

    In Santa Ana this week a police patrol car collided with an SUV just before 2:00 a.m. The cause of the crash is under investigation. The report by ABC 7 News didn't have any other information about the cause of the crash - wether a DUI was involved, or a reckless driver, or if someone ran a red light. Most would assume that the patrol car officer driving would have been obeying the law and all traffic signals and that the SUV driver was at fault.

    9203365_448x252.jpgThe police officer was hurt and two other people were injured and taken to an area hospital. Luckily, none of the injuries were life-threatening. It is not uncommon for drivers in the "middle of the night" to crash in intersections, even when traffic is light. Sometimes drivers will speed up through yellow lights or drive as if they are they only vehicles on the road and are not paying attention to other drivers as closely as when traffic is heavy.

    Intersections can be dangerous wether it is late at night, early in the morning, or during broad daylight rush hour traffic. Orange County drivers, be sure to always check for cars coming all directions even if you have a green light. When you are waiting for a light to turn green and it appears there is no one around, sometimes a driver might speed through an intersection at the last second, and if you have already started out into the intersection, you might be at risk of the speeding driver causing a collision.

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    Tanker Truck Crashes and Caught Fire in Los Angeles

    August 8, 2013,

    A tanker truck carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline overturned and caught fire recently on the 5 Freeway in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Times, a fire-damaged section of I-5 shut down following a tunnel fire. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES.

    la-me-ln-freeway-fire-closures-20130715-002.jpegCaltrans posted on its website, "The intense heat from the tanker fire caused extensive damage to the pavement, walls, support columns, drainage, and lighting." Also, thousands of gallons of gas spilled onto the streets and through storm drains. Firefighters monitored the spill on a mile-long stretch of the Los Angeles River.

    The reports discussed the surface street road closures and traffic jams, but did not report any injuries due to the truck accident, fire or gasoline spill. The environmental impact of the spill is another issue. I also wonder why the truck driver lost control of the truck and what caused the tanker to overturn.

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    Usher's son gets stuck in pool drain

    August 7, 2013,

    A 5 year old boy was playing in his swimming pool in the care of his aunt when he saw a toy in the drain and dover underwater to get it. The news story made national headlines possibly because the boy got stuck in the drain and almost drowned, but also because it was the son a famous musician and TV star, Usher. PHOTO COURTESY OF USA TODAY NEWS.

    1375816860000-usherson-1308061522_3_4.jpgAccording to USA Today, the aunt tried to rescue the boy but couldn't get his hand out, and then the maid dove in and tried to help. The aunt called 911 declaring that her nephew was in the swimming pool and she couldn't get him out.

    Meanwhile, two contractors who were installing sound equipment came to the rescue, freed the child, and revived him with CPR. Usher arrived home as son was being given CPR and was able to ride in the ambulance. The child was "conscious, alert and breathing." Fortunately, Usher's son Raymond V is expected to make a full recovery.

    Orange County residents, it is important to know CPR and to take a CPR/rescue course which will help you know what to do in emergency situations. Especially if you are a parent or a babysitter or caregiver if any emergency situation came up, you'd want to be prepared and it could mean the difference between life and death. Also, if you have a swimming pool, it is also crucial that the people watching the kids in the pool take a CPR course in case of an accident like this one where a child almost drowned. CPR could keep a child breathing until paramedics arrive on scene to help.

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    Toddler Survives Stoller Hit-and-Run

    August 6, 2013,

    In a recent stroller hit-and-run accident in Michigan a mom saved her son when a driver backed into woman and knocked her down. A minivan bin the parking lot of a convenience store backed into a stroller and dragged it across the parking lot. An 18-month boy was in the stroller that was knocked over, then got caught on the back of the van. This incident that made national headlines was caught on surveillance video. PHOTO COURTESY OF TODAY.COM NEWS.

    6C8240203-tdy_baby_crash_130712.blocks_desktop_tease.jpgEven though the mom was terrified for her son's life, she got and and sprung into action chasing after the van. She knew she had to go after her son. According to NBC news, the van stopped long enough for the woman to free her son from the stroller then the van sped away. Amazingly, the toddler boy survived the ordeal without a scratch and the mom is okay too with only minor injuries.

    In situations of high stress and fear, like in this hit-and-run accident, it might be hard to react in a level-headed way. The police applauded the mom for her quick action and a public safety official stated that it was the right thing to do to not engage the driver in a confrontation. Confronting the driver might have made the situation worse.

    Orange County residents, your safety and your children's safety is the first priority. Let the police handle any confrontations. The driver in this case was driving a stolen van, and could have become violent or had a weapon.

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    Beware of Strollers Getting Hit By Cars

    August 5, 2013,

    A mom pushing her baby in a stroller around her neighborhood is a familiar sight in Orange County. Sometimes you might see a woman jogging down the sidewalk behind a jogging stroller with a toddler happily enjoying his ride. Or, you might see a couple taking an evening walk with their baby in a stroller. Most parents or caregivers use extreme caution when going on walks while pushing a stroller - and use the crosswalks - and do everything "right." Yet still, we hear about horrific car accidents with children in strollers getting run over. PHOTO COURTESY OF NBC7 NEWS.

    mom10n-7-web.jpgSuch is the case in San Diego this year when a beloved nanny was taking a daily walk in a residential neighborhood with a 14-month boy in a stroller. The woman was run down and killed in a cross walk by an SUV that ran a red light. The boy was taken to a children's hospital with extensive injuries. The toddler suffered injuries of a broken ribs, a a shattered spleen, and fractured femur and skull, according to NBC San Diego news. Photos at the scene of the accident show the stroller laying crushed on its side under the front bumper of the black SUV in the crosswalk. His blanket sat in a heap on the pavement.

    The driver admitted to being sleep-deprived because she had a newborn baby at home. She pleaded guilty to "misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, running a red light and failure to yield at crosswalk." In June, the sleep-deprived new mom was sentenced to just 48 in jail. The family of the nanny is pursuing a civil suit. The boy's mom feels that the sentence of just 2 days jail time was a slap in the face and questioned that her son's life and the woman's life was worth more than that.

    Orange County Residents - besides being cautious when pushing your children in strollers out on public sidewalks and intersections - make sure to take the extra step of watching for oncoming cars. Even when a pedestrian has the right-of-way in a crosswalk in a residential street, not all drivers are paying attention. Some might be sleep-deprived as in this case and driving inattentive. Other drivers could be driving under the influence or driving while distracted or texting, or speeding.

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    Woman Falls to Her Death on Six Flags Roller Coaster in Texas

    August 2, 2013,

    Amusement Park safety and regulations have been a hot topic across the country recently in light of the high profile news report of a woman falling to her death from a roller coaster. A mom was riding the Texas Giant roller coaster with her son when she fell out of her seat. Witnesses stated that the woman asked a worker to check her seat restraint because she didn't feel safe. It is alleged that the park employee ignored here concerns. PHOTO COURTESY OF CBS DFW NEWS.

    texas-giant.jpgMinutes later, the woman plunged to her death when her improperly secured restraint came undone. Witnesses saw the woman tumble out after the coaster ride dropped. One father who was waiting in line to get on the ride, said he and his daughter watched the coaster go up and saw the woman fall out of the sky. They both cried and his daughter was so terrified she didn't want to ride anything else so they decided to leave the park.

    "Other families were crying, screaming and looking for their families," another man stated. There was a panic among people as they heard that someone had fallen to her death off the roller coaster. Witness also immediately used social media to make statements about the tragic accident. Witness said the woman's son was screaming, "My mom, my mom - we've got to get my mom . . . " and the car was empty where his mom had sat when the coaster pulled up to the platform.

    This news story has sparked national debate about the regulations and safety requirements for amusement park rides. It has been asserted that there are stricter federal guidelines for a child to ride in a stroller than for a child to ride in a roller coaster traveling at high speeds.

    The Texas Giant rollercoaster rises 14 stories high and is the tallest steel-hybrid roller coaster in the world. Six Flags has closed the ride pending investigation. Amusement parks have a duty to ensure that their rides are safe and that restraint systems are working properly. The woman's family will most likely do their own investigating into a wrongful death suit. The restraint should have been properly secured and park employees should always ensure lap bars are secure before giving the go to start a roller coaster ride. There are many legal issues here that the woman's death brings up.

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    12-year Old Boy Slips at Knott's Berry Farm's Soak City

    August 1, 2013,

    Theme parks are popular destinations in the summer. While park safety is a priority for theme parks, not all accidents can be prevented. Sometimes park guests will slip, or fall, or otherwise sustain a personal injury while on a theme park premises. A recent slip-and-fall accident at Knott's Berry Farm's Soak City caused a big scare.

    file000136886412.jpgAccording to ABC 7 News, a 12-year old slipped in a fun house maze, and got his knee stuck in a metal partition. The Orange County Fire Department crews tried to use air bags to release him, but it didn't work. The boys father was with him.

    Rescuers then got the boy loose from the metal by using the Jaws of Life. Luckily, the boy didn't have to be hospitalized and didn't suffer any serious injuries. Accidents can be scary for everyone involved. When you are at a theme park, keep a close eye on your kids. Oftentimes parents let kids "run around on their own" without much supervision and put themselves at risk of injury.

    One challenge is keeping children from playing on the rails that keep the line formations for rides. Kids like to sit, climb, swing on and hang off of the rails. Park employees are constantly asking kids to stay off the line rails - they aren't playground equipment. Running in the theme park and pushing through crowds can get people hurt too.

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    Bus Driver Texting on Cellphone Faces Criminal Charges for Killing Baby Girl in Stroller

    July 31, 2013,

    An 8-month-old girl was sitting in her stroller, with her mother standing next to her on the sidewalk near a bus stop when a commuter bus driver lost control of the bus and went up onto a sidewalk. This week, a New Jersey bus driver faces criminal charges after he smashed his bus into a lamppost. Police say he was either texting or talking on his cellphone and is expected to be charged with death by auto and reckless driving. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JERSEY JOURNAL.

    baby girl stroll bus crash.jpg The mother of the baby girl who was killed was inconsolable. Witnesses to the horrific crash heard the mother screaming, "My daughter! My baby!" No parent can prepare for the death of a child, and a senseless death of an infant in a "freak accident" is an unspeakable tragedy. According to the Los Angeles Times, a memorial of candles, stuffed animals and flowers quickly appeared on the street where the baby girl died.

    Witnesses stated that after the bus crashed into the lamp post, the bus continued on the sidewalk and struck four parked cars. Passengers in the cars suffered minor injuries. But, nearby, witnesses said the baby was bleeding and one person began performing CPR to help the baby breath - but the 8-month girl died on the way to the hospital.

    "More than nine people die each day in the United States in crashes blamed on distracted drivers," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet, studies show that adult drivers continue to talk on their cell phones and text while behind the wheel. Let this be a wake-up call if you are one of the 68% of adults that admit to this dangerous behavior. Orange County residents, be aware that using your phone while driving could result in causing someone personal injury or death.

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    Motorcyclist Killed After Hitting Van in Costa Mesa

    July 30, 2013,

    A motorcyclist died after colliding with a van in Costa Mesa, police said. The 17-year-old driver of the van involved in the collision that killed the motorcyclist over the weekend did not have a driver's license or learner's permit, police added.

    motorcycle-accident.jpgThe force of the crash sent the motorcycle rider through the passenger-side window of the van, said Lt. Mark Manley, of the Costa Mesa Police Department. Firefighters had to use the Jaws-of-Life to free the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist, age 30, who was not identified, died at a hospital, Manley said.

    The 17-year-old Costa Mesa girl driving the van suffered injuries and was taken to a local hospital, according to police. She was accompanied by her mother at the time of the accident, and the two were the only people in the van at the time of the crash, according to Costa Mesa police.

    The cause of the crash was under investigation.

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    Choking is a leading cause of death and injury among young children - up to 34 kids a day end up in ER from choking

    July 29, 2013,

    BreakingNewsChoking.jpgAccording to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics and conducted by Nationwide Children's Hospital, a whopping 34 children a day are admitted to hospital emergency rooms because they've choked on food, which equates to over 12,000 E.R. visits a year by kids ages birth to 14 years, although the actual number of children who choke on food is even greater considering that most kids who choke don't end up in the emergency room.

    "As dramatic as this study is, this is clearly an underestimate," says Dr. Gary Smith, the study's senior author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

    Choking is a common cause of injury and death in young children, primarily because their small airways are easily obstructed. For babies, mastering the ability to chew and swallow food takes time. Moreover, infants may not be able to cough forcefully enough to dislodge an airway obstruction; thus, as babies start exploring their environments, they commonly put objects in their mouths that can easily lead to infant choking.

    The age group most likely to choke are those between the ages of birth to 4, with hard candy being the culprit for 15 percent of choking episodes. Other kinds of candy and gum accounted for 13 percent of choking episodes, followed by meat (not including hot dogs) and bones.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping foods including hot dogs, nuts, chunks of meat or cheese, whole grapes and hard candy away from kids younger than 4. Any food given to babies and young children should be chopped into pieces no larger than half an inch.

    In their study, they suggest boosting public awareness of choking hazards and attaching warning labels to food with a high choke factor. Slapping a caution on a package of Oscar Mayers may sound a bit odd, but toy manufacturers routinely label toys that have potentially dangerous parts.

    In 1994, Congress passed legislation prohibiting manufacturers from marketing toys with small balls, marbles or balloons to children under 3; if such items are part of toys for older kids, the product must also carry a warning label. "All these protections have existed for years for toys, but none of this exists for food," says Smith. "And children choke more often on food than on toys. If we take everything we've learned over the past two decades on protecting children from choking on toys and apply it to food, we will save lives and prevent injuries."

    In the meantime, you can take simple steps to prevent infant choking, such as the following from Mayo Clinic:

    • Properly time the introduction of solid foods. Introducing your baby to solid foods before he or she has the motor skills to swallow them can lead to infant choking. Wait until your baby is at least 4 months old to introduce pureed solid foods.

    • Don't offer high-risk foods. Don't give babies or young children hot dogs, chunks of meat or cheese, grapes, raw vegetables or fruit chunks, unless they're cut up into small pieces. Don't give babies or young children hard foods, such as seeds, nuts, popcorn and hard candy that can't be changed to make them safe options. Other high-risk foods include peanut butter, marshmallows and chewing gum.

    • Supervise mealtime. As your child gets older, don't allow him or her to play, walk or run while eating. Remind your child to chew and swallow his or her food before talking. Don't allow your child to throw food in the air and catch it in his or her mouth or stuff large amounts of food in his or her mouth.

    • Carefully evaluate your child's toys. Don't allow your baby or toddler to play with latex balloons -- which pose a major hazard when uninflated and broken -- small balls, marbles, toys that contain small parts, or toys meant for older children. Look for age guidelines when buying toys for your child. Also, regularly examine toys to make sure they're in good condition.

    • Keep hazardous objects out of reach. Common household items that might pose a choking hazard include button batteries, coins, and pen or marker caps.

    Continue reading "Choking is a leading cause of death and injury among young children - up to 34 kids a day end up in ER from choking" »

    Reckless Orange County Drivers Cause Injuries to Children

    July 26, 2013,

    In Santa Ana a man and wife who were being investigated by police were stopped and the suspects took off. Whenever drivers try to get away from police and "take off," one can assume that either they will crash their car or hit someone else, which is exactly what happened.

    1413721_not_so_healthy.jpgThe couple that was fleeing police crashed into a car carrying a family of four, including two boys who were injured in the accident. The younger 4-year-old boy had minor trauma injuries and his older 10-year-old brother suffered moderate injuries, according to the Los Angeles Times report. Their parents sustained minor injuries.

    The driver learned that speeding away from police was reckless and is never a good idea. Would you rather be caught by police or suffer severe injuries in a car accident, go to the hospital and be caught by police anyway? When the driver slammed into the family's car, his vehicle overturned. This driver suffered broken bones in his lower extremities. The Santa Ana Police Department did not state why the stop was made on the couple or why they were running.

    Some people might have the instinct to run, or flee from the police by vehicle to avoid being caught or questioned for some other incident, but as this man learned, that course of action can lead to minor or catastrophic injuries. If ever pulled over by the police, cooperate, and never flee the scene.

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    Newborns are Commonly Not Properly Secured in their Carseats - Including the Newborn Prince

    July 25, 2013,

    The world has royal baby fever. This week, in light of the birth of the third in line heir to the English throne, reports have been flooding the news media that new parents Prince William and Duchess Kate might not have properly secured the newborn Prince of Cambridge into his infant car seat. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MSN.NEWS/ASSOCIATED PRESS.

    _h353_w628_m6_otrue_lfalse.jpgMillions of eyes around the world watched television broadcasts as the Prince was shown to the world for the first time outside the hospital steps in London. Of course, everything was scrutinized - Duchess Kate's appearance - her hair, her dress, the way Prince William placed a hand on her back, if the Royals were smiling, and what the baby looked like. All eyes also watched as Prince William carried the royal baby in his carseat to the waiting black Range Rover.

    Reports are stating that the newborn Prince, who was swaddled in a blanket, was improperly secured under car seat straps that were loosely fastened. Child restraint systems are often used incorrectly and can increase a child's risk of personal injury in the case of an automobile accident. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Car accidents are the leading cause of death in children in the United States.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control provides the following recommendations on preventing injuries to children while riding in a motor vehicle:

  • Child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants, and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years.2
  • There is strong evidence that child safety seat laws, safety seat distribution and education programs, community-wide education and enforcement campaigns, and incentive-plus-education programs are effective in increasing child safety seat use.7
  • According to researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, for children 4 to 7 years, booster seats reduce injury risk by 59% compared to seat belts alone.8
  • Child passengers should never be seated in front of an airbag. Airbags can injure or kill children in a crash that might otherwise have been survivable.

    Orange County residents, please be sure to know the proper way to secure your infant or child into his or her car seat or booster seat. Check with your manufacturers safety recommendations for the product and utilize resources available to be knowledgeable about California state laws and be prepared in case of a car accident.

    Continue reading "Newborns are Commonly Not Properly Secured in their Carseats - Including the Newborn Prince" »