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Did you know that Safety Seat Belt violations are a primary offense in Texas? That means that an officer doesn’t need to have another reason to pull you over. Officers may then arrest or issue a citation/notice to appear before a judge for a violation.
I wonder if all moms (and dads) know what the Texas laws are regarding children when they are riding in the car? That they could even be arrested if they or their child are not in a seat belt. Here’s a look at the current laws in Texas regarding child passenger safety.
First, let me remind you that everyone, regardless of age, is required to be wearing a seat belt.
All children younger than 8 years old, unless taller than 4’9”, are required to be in the appropriate child safety seat system wherever they ride in a passenger vehicle. In other words, once the child is 8 years old, regardless of their height or weight, it is legal for them to just have the adult safety belt on. However, it is recommended that it is safest for any child under 4’9” to be in a booster seat.
Notice the law says “passenger vehicle” – what does that include? A “passenger vehicle” is a passenger car, sport utility vehicle, truck, light truck, truck tractor or a passenger van designed to transport 15 or fewer occupants, including the driver. (Buses are not included in this definition)
An infant or child passenger restraint system that meets the federal standards for crash-tested restraint systems as set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Examples: rear-facing only safety seat, convertible safety seat, forward-facing only safety seat, high-back booster seat, backless booster seat, safety vest/harness.
Most hospitals in Texas will not let you leave with your newborn without a proper car seat. You want to keep your baby in a rear-facing seatas long as possible – to the upper weight limits of the harness. But you should never place an infant forward-facing before their first birthday and 20-22 pounds.
Next is the Forward-Facing Seat: Toddlers go forward-facing in a five-point harness until the upper limits of the harness, usually 40-65 pounds.
Again, Texas Law requires all children under 8, unless taller than 4’9” to be in an appropriate Booster Seat. Not sure if it safe for your child to dump the booster seat? There is a simple 5-step test for determining proper fit of the adult safety belt. Buckle your child into a lap/shoulder belt and look for these things:
1. Does he/she sit all the way back against the seat?
2. Do his/her knees bend easily at the edge of the seat?
3. Does the shoulder belt cross over the center of the shoulder and chest?
4. Is the lap belt low, across the tops of the thighs?
5. Can he/she stay seated like this for the entire trip?
If you answered “no” to any of these, your child may still need a booster seat. And you should want to do that, even if it’s a hassle. Why? Because studies have shown that in crashes where children are restrained by only an adult seat belt, they are more likely to suffer severe head, spinal cord and internal injuries.
Another question I hear a lot (mainly from eager children) is it legal for a child to ride in the front seat. I always told the kids the law said they had to be twelve, but actually there is no such law in Texas. However, the law does require that all child safety seat systems must be used according to the owner’s manuals and installed according to manufacturer instructions.
ALL rear-facing seats are prohibited from being used on the front seat of the vehicle if there is a passenger air bag. The only way the rear-facing safety seat can be legally and properly installed on the front seat of a single-cab vehicle is to manually turn the air bag to the “off” position. Air bags can be extremely dangerous to small children.
I think its important that parents know the laws affecting their children’s safety. So buckle up!
From one Mom to another,
What’s playing at the local movie theatre this weekend? Saturday is suppose to be a beautiful, warm day so you might want to be outside. However, the Sunday forecast has dropping temperatures and rain – a perfect day for the movies!
First, the widely popular “LEGO” Movie is still playing in Digital Cinema and in 3D. My boys both give it a thumbs up! Its rated PG and is 94 minutes long.
Next is the Air Marshall movie starring Liam Neeson, “Non-Stop.” This is an action movie about a flight bound for London, where the onboard Air Marshall is receiving text messages during the flight that if $150 million is not transferred to an off-shore account, a passenger will die every 20 minutes. It is rated PG-13 for IntenseViolence/Action, Drug References, Sensuality and Some Language. It runs 107 minutes.
Also playing is a movie I’m most interested in seeing called “Son of God.” This is a large scale, epic telling of the New Testament and the life of Jesus Christ. The first movie to do so since “The Passion of the Christ” was released ten years ago. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus as the film spans from the birth through his teachings, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Son of God is rated PG-13 for intense and bloody scenes of the Crucifixion and for violence. It is 138 minutes.
Another PG-13 movie is “3 Days to Kill.” Running 117 minutes and starring Kevin Costner, this action life tells the story of spy Ethan Renner (Costner) who decides to give up his life of espionage and try to repair his relationship with his estranged wife and daughter. But of course its not that easy. Rated PG-13 for Language, Violence, Intense Action and Sensuality.
A historical, epic movie is “Pompeii.” This movie tells the story of the legendary eruption of Mount Vesuvius that rains lava and ash down on the city of Pompeii in 79 A.D. completely burying the city. It is rated PG-13 for Disaster-Related Action, Brief Sexual Content and Intense Battle Sequences. 105 minutes.
The last movie showing this weekend here in Paris is “Robo-Cop.” No surprise here. Critically injured cop is transformed into a cyborg by evil, corporation. Inside the robot is the heart of a man. Rated PG-13 for Frenetic Gun Violence, Brief Strong Language, Intense Sequence of Action, Sensuality and Some Drug Material. 117 minutes.
See you at the movies! For movie times, visist cinemark.com.
From One Mom to Another,
Saturday morning I was in one of our local pharmacies and overheard a conversation between the store manager and a very angry woman with an elderly man. Essentially, the pharmacist had put the wrong medication in the pill bottle. For three days this man had been taking pills for a urinary tract infection (UTI) instead of his appropriate prescription (my eavesdropping skills are not very keen so I was unable to hear what his ailment was or what medication he was suppose to receive). But the bottom line was he was given the wrong pills and the lady was “willing to bet a dollar” someone out there was not taking the right pills for a UTI and was instead taking his.
As a mom, this really got me wondering, and worrying, how often this happens? And what if the mix up was with a child, with a powerful drug? Just recently a friend of mine’s teenage daughter asked a group of girls if they had an Advil since she had a headache. A girl she knew gave her two blue pills and told her they were Advil – they were not – it was Xanax. Luckily my friend’s daughter called her mom telling her what happened and that she felt “weird.” This is just another example of how easy it is for our kids to come in contact with dangerous drugs.
I remember telling my kids when they were in just 1st and 2nd grade and started going on play-dates without me to never, ever take any kind of pills at a friend’s house. Most homes have some type of prescription drugs in the medicine cabinet. It seems logical to me that kids today would have much easier access to prescription drugs than street drugs… and that is in fact the case.
Last April a study was released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation that confirmed one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription drug at least once – a 33% increase over the past five years. One in eight teens (13%) confirms they have taken stimulants Ritalin or Adderall when it was not prescribed to them. This doesn’t count all the teens (and adults) abusing these two drugs when it is prescribed. Even more concerning is that 23% of teens say their parents don’t care as much about misusing prescription drugs compared to illegal drugs and that of those kids who say they have abused Rx medications, one in five (20%) did so before the age of 14! And it’s not surprising then that a quarter of teens in the survey found that misusing and abusing prescription drugs are safer than using street drugs.
But back to the situation at the pharmacy with the lady and the elderly man who received the wrong pills. Let’s assume our children are not sneaking into parents medicine cabinets and stealing pills (they are) what are the chances of our kids receiving a harmful drug by mistake at the pharmacy. How does this happen?
Sometimes it’s due to a doctor’s messy handwriting, sometimes the wrong pills are put in the wrong bottle…. It’s all human error. It’s important to really look at your prescription and what is written on the Rx bottle you pick up. Unfortunately many drugs have similar-sounding prescription names or look-alike drug product packaging. For example, Adderall and Inderal - Adderall is a stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Inderal is used to treat high blood pressure. Or Amaryl and Reminyl - Amaryl is an anti-diabetic treatment; Reminyl is an Alzheimer’s medication Celexa and Celebrex – Celexa is an antidepressant; Celebrex is a painkiller. Lodine and Codeine – Lodine is used to treat mild pain and decrease swelling; Codeine is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Flonase and Flomax – Flonase is a nasal spray; Flomax is a prostate drug. The list goes on and on…. And as a mom it makes me very nervous.
So what can we do to make sure a prescription drug mix up doesn’t happen to our kids or other family members?
According to the Mayo Clinic communication is the key. If you don’t understand something your doctor says, ask for an explanation. Whenever you start a new medication, make sure you know the answers to the following:
When you pick up the prescription from the pharmacists ask some of these same questions and make sure the answers match. If they don’t – speak up. Have the pharmacist double check the prescription or even call the doctor.
The Mayo Clinic also has these tips for playing it safe with medication:
The Mayo Clinic also warns: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is never a smart policy when it comes to medications and your health. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or to tell your health care providers if anything seems amiss. Remember, you’re the final line of defense against medication errors.
If despite your efforts you have problems with a medication, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about whether to report it to MedWatch — the Food and Drug Administration safety and adverse event reporting program. Reporting to MedWatch is easy, confidential and secure — and it can help save others from being harmed by medication errors.
It’s up to us moms (and dads) to be advocates for our children when it comes to their health. So often we don’t want to seem rude and so we don’t ask the questions we should. It is better to offend someone if you think they have made an error, than to risk giving your child the wrong medication.
Likewise, it is up to us to talk to our kids, at a very young age, what pills are. And to tell them to never, ever take pills from anyone or at anyone’s house. The only person that a child should take any pill from is their parents or guardian or school nurse. Just like with everything these days, it’s sad that you can’t trust everyone. But the bottom line is… you can’t.
From one mom to another,
First, Paris Optimist Baseball will have sign ups on Saturday from 10am-2pm at the Lamar Avenue Church of Christ. To maintain the sports complex at Woodall Field where all games are played and the baseball program itself, a registration fee increase was necessary this year. However, the players will not be responsible to sell raffle tickets or to collect concession fees. The new registration fees are as follows: Buddy Ball ($15); Ages 3-4 ($45); ages 5-6 and 7-8 ($80); ages 9-10 and 11-12 ($85.00); ages 13-14 ($95). The fees include a game shirt and team drinks. The league age is May 1st and new player’s must bring a birth certificate to registration.
The City of Paris Dixie Softball and t-ball for ages 3-4 is also on Saturday from 10am-2pm at the Lamar Avenue Church of Christ and on Thursday, Feb. 6th at the Sports Complex next to the Love Civic Center from 5pm-7pm. The fee for either is $55 and new players must bring a non-returnable copy of their birth certificate. T-ball is for boys and girls ages 3-4 and Dixie Softball is for girls ages 4-18. Coaches and umpires are need, call 903-784-9299 for more information.
The possibility of a ban on smoking in public places in Paris, Texas is coming before the City Council tonight. I urge moms to attend the meeting and show their support for the ban. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30pm at the City Council Chambers, located at 107 East Kaufman Street.
In most cities and towns, big and small, across the country it is illegal to light up a cigarette in a public building, including restaurants. In my opinion, Paris, Texas is way behind the times when it comes to this issue. I am a big believer in private rights and freedoms, but when another’s actions can affect me and my family, that’s where I think your rights end.
Everyone knows the dangers of smoking. If you choose to light up, that’s your choice. But the dangers of secondhand smoke are real and you don’t have the right to harm my child.
What exactly is secondhand smoke? Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke that comes from a cigarette and smoke breathed out by a smoker. And the fact is that secondhand smoke is dangerous to anyone who breathes it in. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. It contains over 7,000 harmful chemicals, at least 250 of which are known to damage your health. It can also stay in the air for several hours after somebody smokes. Even breathing secondhand smoke for a short amount of time can hurt your body. Moreover, secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for children, babies, and women who are pregnant.
According to the CDC, secondhand smoke has the following health effects on children: ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath), respiratory infections (bronchitis, pneumonia) and a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The only way to fully protect non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke is to not allow smoking indoors. I cannot tell you the number of restaurants in Paris, Texas that my children have never stepped into because of the smoke inside. The idea of separating smokers from nonsmokers in “no smoking” sections in restaurants is ridiculous. The smoke is not contained. Restaurant owners might think they will lose revenue if they are forced to be all non-smoking, but that is simply not the case. The number of non-smokers who could and would be customers is greater than the small number of smokers polluting the air.
It’s time Paris, Texas. And I hope to see all moms at the city council meeting tonight!
From One Mom to Another,
Jenny Wilson is a mother of three. She teaches a mommy and me class at Central Presbyterian Day School and is on the Paris Isd School Board as well as the Aikin Parent Association and Paris Jr. High PTO. She is a board member of the Children’s Advocacy Center and of the Paris Community Theatre. Mrs. Wilson is also a certified yoga instructor.