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Shopping cart injuries are on the rise

March 24, 2014

How often do you go to the grocery store anticipating leaving in an ambulance with your child, due to a shopping cart-related injury? My guess is, never. Most parents want to get in and get out when doing the grocery shopping, especially with kids in tow. The problem is, many parents sacrifice safety while trying to hurriedly check things off their list. And despite a voluntary shopping cart safety standard implemented in 2004, the overall rate of shopping cart-related injuries among kids have not declined.

The Study

A recent study published in Clinical Pediatrics brought to light the prevalence of injuries among children related to shopping carts that were treated in US Emergency Departments, and the numbers were unexpected. Rather than seeing a decline in the number of injuries following the 2004 shopping cart safety standard, researchers actually found an increase in the number of concussions and closed head injuries treated. This can only mean one thing – the current safety standard is not adequate, and further action must be taken to help keep kids safe while cruising around the grocery store.

You may be thinking, “This will never happen to my child.” And you may be right. But you could be wrong, too. During the study, 530,494 children were documented as receiving treatment for a shopping cart-related injury in the Emergency Department. That’s an average of over 24,000 children annually, which is equivalent to 66 children per day, or get this – one child every 22 minutes treated in an emergency department. If that doesn’t give parents a wake up call, I don’t know what will. That’s a lot of kids!

The Recommendations

Safety officials suggest design changes to shopping carts, including: improving performance standards for restraint systems and placing the child seating area near the floor to help reduce the risk of the cart tipping over.

These are all great, but what can I do?

There are several things a parent can do starting with the next grocery store trip to help keep children safe. Here are some tips taken from a recent ScienceDaily article:
  • Always use the shopping cart safety straps if the child needs to ride in the cart. The number one cause of injury is falling, and using these could restraints could help minimize your child’s risk. Make sure that the straps are snugly secure, and that your child’s legs are placed through the leg openings.
  • Do not allow your child to sit in the basket portion of the cart. By doing this, your child will be tempted to stand up or move around, increasing his or her risk of injury.
  • When possible, choose alternatives to placing your child in a shopping cart.
  • Use a cart that has a child seat that is low to the ground, if one is available. Publix has “kid-friendly” carts that allow kids to sit in a pretend car that is attached to the cart. This could be a great alternative for the older kids!
  • Make sure your child remains seated at all times. Standing up or jumping in the cart greatly increases your child’s risk of falling, or bumping his or her head on the cart.
  • Avoid placing infant carriers on top of shopping carts. If your child is not old enough to sit up in the shopping car seat, consider an alternative, such as: leaving your child at home with another adult, using a front- or back- carrier, or using a stroller.