PORTLAND, Ore.— A trip to the grocery store isn’t something most parents worry about. But every year, an average of 21,500 children are injured in the U.S. because of falls from shopping carts, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“It’s actually a lot worse than you think,” said Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, director of the Doernbecher Tom Sargent Safety Center. “The overwhelming majority of injuries are head injuries, and you think about falling from a height and that kids, especially younger kids tend to be top heavy, they lead with their head.”

The majority of falls involved one- or two-year olds, according to the commission.

The most serious injuries occurred after children fell from a shopping cart onto a hard concrete floor.

Here's a local example. On November 12, 2014, this call was made to 9-1-1 dispatchers:

OPERATOR: Washington County Dispatch

CALLER: I’m calling from Costco in Hillsboro, we had a girl fall out of a shopping cart and hit her head on the concrete.

Child safety experts say kids should be buckled into the shopping cart seat or basket. Many parents don’t. Only 5.6 percent of all shoppers buckled their children into the cart, according to a study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management in February 2014.

Many parents say kids still manage to wiggle out or get unbuckled.

“I just try not to take the kids to the store with me, that’s the safest thing for me to do,” said Dawn Mangum, mother of four children. “It’s hard taking little kids to the store.”

Getty Images file
Getty Images file

In 2012, the industry created standards to prevent shopping cart injuries.

“It requires shopping carts to have adjustable restraint system and have uniformed warnings for consumers,” said Paul Giampavolo, chair of the subcommittee and president/CEO of Safe-Strap.

A random check of Portland-area stores by KGW found several shopping carts with broken or missing restraints. Parents couldn’t buckle their kids in, even if they wanted to.

“They should replace them and make sure their carts are in good working order because it is for the safety of their customers children,” said Giampavolo.

“Shopping carts are the workhorses of the grocery store and we do our best to make sure they are ready to do their job,” said Joe Gilliam, president of the NW Grocery Association.

Gilliam said parents should notify the customer service desk if they have concerns about the condition of a safety strap.

“Safety straps are a great tool, but do not guarantee safety,” said Gilliam. “Nothing can replace the importance of parental supervision as the number one most effective safety prevention measure for a small child that is riding in a cart.”

To prevent falls from shopping carts:

  • ·Use seatbelts to restrain your child in the cart seat.
  • ·Retailers should ensure that all carts have seatbelts and that the seatbelts work as intended.
  • ·Stay with your child at all times.
  • ·Don’t allow your child to ride in the cart basket.
  • ·Don’t place a personal infant carrier or car seat in the cart seat or basket.
  • ·Don't allow your child to ride or climb on the sides or front of the cart.
  • ·Don’t allow a child to push the cart with another child in it.

(Source: CPSC)


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