How to Install a Forward-Facing Car Seat

Now that your child has graduated to a front-facing car seat, you have new challenges. For instance, just how do you attach the car seat to the vehicle so that it holds your child safely and does not propel her forward in the event of a crash?

Here’s an excellent demonstration of  how to safely install the front-facing car seat AND how to securely position you child in the seat.

Thanks, Virginia DMV for the good information.


Is Your Child’s Caregiver Too “Social”?

It’s all over the news. I have written blogs about it. Lawyers talk about it. Moms and dads talk about it. But have you talked to your child’s caregiver about it?

I’m talking about social media  - using it, abusing it, wasting time with it, sharing too much information on it, posting pictures on it — and its having created giant open windows into our lives. We seem to have fallen head-over-heels in love with social media and have have become numb to the harms we could be causing.

If your child is with a caregiver, part time or full time, in your home or elsewhere, you should read this article posted on — “The Social Media Nanny: Dislike.” It has good tips on how to set boundaries for your child’s caregiver. Especially important are the comments about whether you will allow your child’s pictures to be posted on social media. It’s a must-read for all parents.

Frankly, it’s a must-read for parents whose children are not in someone else’s care. Parents love to take pictures of their children’s parties and other activities and post them on social media sites, especially Facebook and Instagram. You may want to talk to your friends and be sure you are in agreement about social media  boundaries.

FIREWORKS. Just because they are legal, doesn’t mean they are a good idea.

It’s that time of year again. You see fireworks stands popping up in shopping mall parking lots and along roadsides all over the country. Buying and setting off fireworks in backyards seems as American as grilling hotdogs and hamburgers.

Fireworks are exciting! They’re colorful! They’re noisy! They light up the sky! They’re dangerous! After all, they are explosives.

Around the July 4th holiday every year, fireworks injure and maim thousands of children. If fireworks are in your holiday plans, play it safe. This chart published by the Consumer Produce Safety Commission shows the percentages of injuries from various fireworks. (Even SPARKLERS are dangerous. The tip of a sparkler burns at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit!)

fireworks injuries infographic

If your child is injured at a fireworks display, you may want to consider speaking to a child injury lawyer who can help you decide whether someone’s negligence caused her injury.

What Does Drowning Look like? Not What You Think.

Hot summer day. Cool off at the pool?  Great idea! BUT, do you know what a drowning child looks like? It’s not what you think. 

DROWNING IS THE NO. 2 CAUSE OF ACCIDENTAL DEATH IN CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 15. That makes it pretty darned important to know — and watch for — the signs of drowning.

According to Mario Vittone, a leading expert on water and boating safety,  drowning is usually a very quiet event, that looks rather undramatic — none of that yelling, waving and splashing you see in the movies.  Watch out for these signs that a swimmer is in distress:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder.

Read his full article Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning and see a video of Instinctive Drowning Response posted on his blog.

And, please, when you take your children to the pool or the beach, leave your relaxing summer reading behind and watch your child every second. The younger the child, the less time it takes to drown. You only have a few seconds to be sure.



Are All The Children Off the Bus?

There is no excuse for leaving a child behind and unaccounted for. Be sure your child’s care giver has a way to count every child that gets out of the van or bus. All they have to do is COUNT. 

The “No Child Left Behind” law was enacted several years ago in an attempt to regulate and measure academic progress in pre-collegiate education. Whether it has been a success has been much debated since the Act went into effect. Making sure children get adequate public education is complicated.

What is not complicated, however, is taking “no child left behind” to heart when taking children off a school bus or day care van. It is as simple as 1-2-3.

If three children get on, then three children should get off at the destination. Although it is harder if there are 33 children instead of 3, the answer is still the same: count them when they get on and count them when they get off.

Field trips are a routine part of day care and school programs. They happen every day. Teachers and day care workers must know how to make sure the same children get off the bus (or out of cars or off public transportation) as those that started the trip. Have a checklist, have two people to do the counting – something!

For goodness’ sake: JUST DO IT!





Brain Injuries and Baseball — How to Avoid Them

  My friend Ken Levinson, a child safety lawyer in Chicago, has a great post on his blog, The Safest Line, about preventing baseball injuries, especially brain injuries.

Ken always gives parents useful tips and information to help them do the important job of keeping their children safe.

Kathy Lehner Honored as Rohrstaff Hero

Rohrstaff Law Firm has honored KATHY LEHNER as our Rohrstaff Hero in February 2013. Kathy has given an extraordinary amount of her time and energy to providing opportunities for girls to grow their confidence by providing after-school mentoring and establishing Girl Scout guidance for teens and younger girls in their community.

Read the article about Kathy in our firm’s Newsletter, The Rohrstaff Reader:  Pages from FEBRUARY 2013 Newsletter.

On behalf of Kathy, Rohrstaff Law Firm made a contribution to United Community Ministries, a non-profit organization that has provided assistance for her programs.

For information on how you can nominate someone to be a Rohrstaff Hero, go to and fill in the form.


Hit the Road So Your Teen Can Talk

Children of a certain age suddenly quit talking — to their parents, that is. You want to talk — they leave the room. You ask “How was your day?” They say, “Fine”. “What happened at school today?” “Nothin’”.

So, what’s a parent to do? I suggest you hit the road. — with your child. Being in a moving auto together changes things. First, there is no escape, and you are in control of the destination. The pace of conversation is different. There are temporary distractions as scenery goes by. You can’t look each other in the eye so sometimes talking about important stuff comes easier.

Early one morning, a mother picked her daughter up  from school after an overnight competition out of town. She intended to take her daughter home to take a nap and then go on to work. When they were almost home, the daughter said, “I think I was assaulted on the trip.”  Mom chose not to make the last turn that would have taken them home. As Mom took the unplanned, long detour, she got the details of a frightening event that happened to her daughter on the trip. That mother often thought afterward what she would have heard if she had taken her daughter home instead of continuing to drive. Would her daughter have sat down at the kitchen table and told her the whole story? Or would she have insisted on “I’ll tell you later; I’m too tire now, I want to take a nap.” And, if she did hear later from her daughter, would the details have been as clear?

A son “runs away from home.” In fact, he did not go far, but he was gone long enough for his parents to get worried and to go out looking for him. Many hours later, he returned home. Dinner needed to be prepared for the rest of the family, but neither parent was able to get that done. So, the father decided to go pick something up from a nearby restaurant. He put his son in the car so they could go together to pick up dinner. The trip lasted a lot longer than it otherwise would have because of a suddenly-planned, long detour. By the time they got back home, they had been able to talk about a few of the things that were bothering the teen. Everyone was hungry for dinner by that time.

Being in a car together may not work the first time, or even the second. Both parent and teen must be willing to participate and listen. But, traveling  together in a car can provide a safer environment in which difficult issues can be discussed. So, when the time is right, hit the road!


Is there a metal swing set in any back yard where your child plays?

DON’T let your child NEAR it unless you are sure it is anchored into the ground. Cement works well. Seriously.

Three-year-old Ann Reese and her parents were at a party on Christmas Eve. It was warm. They were outside. Ann Reese was walking behind a metal back yard swing set where other children were swinging. She was pushing her stroller with her three favorite dolls. Suddenly, the swing set fell over, striking Ann Reese. She died later that day.

If you have such a swing set in your back yard, anchor it now. If the day care center or the home where your child stays while you are at work has a metal swing set that is not anchored, do not let your child go anywhere in the yard until it is anchored.

It is easy to think, “But this can’t happen to my family.” I hope that is true. However, I know Ann Reese’s family never imagined such a thing could happen to them.

Please make sure any metal swing set in your child’s life cannot come out of the ground.

When is an online game really advertising?

Ads are everywhere. We can’t escape them. There was a time, though, when they were not part of our children’s everyday lives. But, that was a long, long time ago. We’ve come a long way from the days of large print on the outside of cereal boxes “SECRET DECODER RING INSIDE!” and “Toy Surprise Inside” of Cracker Jack.

There are now thousands of opportunities for our children to be exposed to advertising, and for most children (AND parents), it is not easy to figure out where entertainment ends and marketing begins. Children’s TV shows, both successful and not so successful, have long fueled toy manufacturers’ cross marketing efforts by adding dolls, action figures, games, etc. to toy chests everywhere.

A recent article in The Washington Post (“When is a kid’s online game actually an ad?”) discussed the growing difficulty of figuring out when an online game (in this case, an IHOP game based on Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax) is really just an ad directed at children. The Children’s Advertising Review Unit said it was advertising. IHOP said it was not.  To children, a screen is a screen is a screen. They do not differentiate between a TV and other screens in their lives. However, neither the Federal Trade Commission nor the Federal Communications Commission regulates non-traditional, electronic media. Marketers will have a field day until they are told not to.

I’m not in favor of lots of regulation; however, when it comes to children, I do think there is a need to limit the amount of exposure our children have to marketing directed toward them. I’m sure companies love that market, because children are so susceptible. Children have not yet learned to question and filter what looks like information but is really marketing. Grownups – parents – are supposed to do that. But with the enormous growth on ways to have access to children, parents may be outmaneuvered in this arena. Here is a link to some examples of cross marketing to children.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should the government regulate advertising to children? What can parents do?

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© 2014 Virginia Child Injury Lawyer