Every spring, Heather Clare, a psychologist and mother-of-three in New York, posts a picture dating back to September 2015 to her Facebook page that’s meant to serve as a warning to parents about the dangers of slides.
In it, Clare can be seen coming down a slide with her then one-year-old daughter Meadow in her lap. The otherwise happy snap shows Meadow’s foot caught between her mom and the slide, and twisting back into a dangerous position.
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“She was originally sitting centred on my lap, but then I noticed that her foot was getting caught,” Clare tells Global News. “I was trying to stop us from sliding down but I couldn’t. I had never heard her cry like that before. We rushed to the emergency room around the corner right away.”
Meadow ended up fracturing the tibia and fibula of her right leg, and had to wear a cast for four weeks.
Although the tot, now four years old, recovered and doesn’t have any lasting effects from her accident, Clare wants to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen to other kids and also wants to get the word out that it is, in fact, a very common injury.
“The doctor told us that it’s one of the top-three injuries he sees in the spring and summer months, along with trampoline and pool injuries,” she says.
In a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers found that nearly 352,700 children under the age of six were injured on slides in the U.S. between the years 2002 to 2015. More than one-third of the injuries were leg fractures, usually to the lower leg. What’s more, these injuries are less likely to occur if the child is sliding down unaccompanied, because they don’t have the extra weight of another person behind them that’s pushing their momentum forward.
“Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought,” lead researcher Dr. Charles Jennissen, said in a statement. “And in most cases, I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known.”
This is where Clare comes in. She says she immediately shared the pic (snapped by her husband) after the incident in 2015 and has re-posted it yearly to help inform parents. Until this year, she always did so privately to her own network on Facebook.
But in a conversation last week at her mom group, she told Meadow’s story and most of the mothers were surprised to learn about the potential consequences of going down a slide with a child in their lap. That inspired Clare to make her post public, and it went viral, garnering over 16,000 comments and nearly 90,000 shares.
“I knew it would open me up to negative comments,” she says, including people who pointed out that she wasn’t holding her daughter properly. For the record, she says, there’s no proper way to hold a child on a slide, because you simply shouldn’t be doing it.
“I’m happy that I shared it because I feel that I’ve been able to reach so many more people. A lot have messaged me to say thanks and others have shared pictures of their kids in a cast who suffered the same injury. They’re grateful that I’m sharing our story.”
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