One of Tammy Ryan's worst fears was realized when her 2-year-old son, Drew, accidentally pushed her 4-month-old's car seat out of a shopping cart. Ryan, a resident of Plainfield and the mom of four boys, had put her infant's seat in the cart's seat and placed Drew in the basket.
The car seat, with baby Nicholas strapped in, fell to the ground. Luckily, his fall was buffered by the handle of the car seat. Even so, Ryan had him examined, worried that a worse injury had occurred.
According to a recent publication by the Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 24,000 children are injured each year in accidents with shopping carts.
"The real risk is that carts are not built correctly, which makes them unstable and likely to tip over," says Dr. H. Garry Gardner, a pediatrician from Darien and co-author of the study. "The two most common causes of injuries are tip-overs and kids falling out of the cart."
The American Academy of Pediatrics believes 58 percent of injuries result from falls and 26 percent are caused by tip-overs. Although 21 countries have standards for shopping cart safety, the United States does not.
Since it isn't always practical to go to the grocery store without children, parents should always use the buckle provided in the cart. If it is defective, report it immediately to an employee and use another cart. Some stores feature shopping carts with attachments to the front containing children's seats that are low to the ground.
"This lowers the center of gravity and makes the cart less likely to tip," says Gardner.
Praise your children for following safety rules in the grocery store and keep your eyes on them at all times. If all else fails, try shopping for groceries online.
While Ryan's son survived his fall with few injuries, she has made one big adjustment. "It turned out Nicholas was OK," she says, "but I've never taken all of the kids to the grocery store at the same time again."