Car Accident 911
Even the most careful driver can get in a crash. Here is how to keep your kids safe on every trip - and how to manage in an emergency. - By Megan Tucker
IF YOU ARE IN A COLLISION ...
- LOOK AROUND - Check to make sure that you are not stopped in the path of oncoming traffic. If there are no serious injuries and your car is drivable, pull over to the side of the road. Do not get out unless absolutely necessary. Remind your kids to stay buckled up in their seats.
- TURN OFF YOUR IGNITION. - This will reduce the risk of fire. Then turn on your hazard lights to other drivers can see you.
- GET HELP. - If you have a cell phone, call 911 or flag down a passing car.
- CHECK FOR INJURIES. - Don't move anyone who is injured unless they are in further danger. If you must move your child out of the car, try to remove the entire safety seat with your child still strapped in. For treatment, see box at right.
- GATHER INFORMATION. - If everyone is okay in all cars, write down every driver's full name, license plate number, insurance information, and the color, year, make, and model of the other cars involved. You might also want to record road and weather conditions, how fast you were driving, and the time and location of the accident. Got a camera with you? Then take photos of the damage and the accident scene.
DEALING WITH INJURED KIDS ...
Remember that your first job is to be a parent, not a paramedic. Reassure your children with these smart moves.
- Use Comforting Words - Explain simply what happened: "We have been in an accident and people are going to come and help us." Ask whether your child feels pain anywhere and tell her that a doctor will make sure she feels better soon.
- Stay Still - In most cases, you should not move an injured child without professional help. Challenge them to stay as still as possible until paramedics arrive and can better evaluate their injuries. Although neck or back pain most commonly indicates a minor strain, any kind of ache should be treated seriously, as it could be from a spinal cord injury or fracture.
- Control Bleeding - Apply direct, from pressure to any obvious wound with a clean shirt or a towel. If they are able to, your child can help hold it in place.
- Brush Up on First Aid - Formal training will teach you how to help your child if they are unconscious or not breathing. Enroll in a class at your local Red Cross chapter.
- Driver Distractions such as talking on the phone, eating, and having pats in the car contribute to 25 percent of all motor vehicle accidents that are reported to police according to the national highway traffic safety administration.