Should I Be Worried About the FaceApp?

face app.png

If you used the FaceApp to find out what you might look like a few years down the road, you might now be worried that you have just granted Russian spies access to your entire life.

And that’s a good thing to be worried about, because that would be bad.

(Just as an aside, do we really think we need to GIVE the Russians access to all of our information? I’m pretty sure if they want it they already have it. Of course that may be me just being paranoid.)

So, should you be worried or not?

The short answer is yes. But probably not more than you should be worried about any of the other apps you use.

One of the key concerns many users have about the app is that by signing the user agreement they gave the FaceApp company ownership of all of their photos.

The FaceApp’s user agreement says:

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.”

So in other words, you give the FaceApp permission to use the photo you create without asking you or without paying you for it.

To compare, Facebook’s user agreement also includes the same:

“Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Facebook Products you use.”

And the website we used to create our own aged picture, PicMonkey, says the same:

“You hereby grant to us a non-exclusive, fully paid, transferable, sublicenseable, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual license to use, store, copy, modify and create derivative works based upon User Content and to distribute and make available to third parties such User Content for all purposes in connection with operating the Websites and providing the PicMonkey Services.”

And guess what, Snapchat says about the same too:

“We call Story submissions that are set to be viewable by Everyone as well as content you submit to crowd-sourced Services, including Our Story, “Public Content.” For all content you submit to the Services other than Public Content, you grant Snap Inc. and our affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, and distribute that content. This license is for the limited purpose of operating, developing, providing, promoting, and improving the Services and researching and developing new ones.”

So in other words, many of the apps you use require you to sign a user agreement that gives them permission to use your information and pictures.

But can they get ALL my pictures?

According to FaceApp, they only use and store the picture that you upload, not your entire camera roll. Again, though, they wouldn’t be the first or the last company to take liberties with their user’s information.

Can I change my mind?

One concern from the user agreement is that it says the user gives FaceApp irrevocable license to use their photos. Many users are concerned that once they allow FaceApp to access their photo, they will never be able to take back that permission. However, FaceApp says that you can send a request for them to delete your data from their servers. They instruct users to submit a request in the mobile app by going to Settings->Support->Report a bug and then enter the word “privacy” in the subject line.

What if I delete it?

According to the user agreement, photos you delete from the app may still be stored in their servers for reasons including for them to comply with their legal obligations. In other words, even if you delete it, it may still be there and it could be used against you.

This clause may give them free reign to store the photos you delete for any number of reasons, but it also may be to protect themselves and/or others from misuse. I am imagining a cyber-bullying situation in which a person takes an inappropriate picture, perhaps of a minor, and transforms it using FaceApp then distributes it to humiliate that person.

The app may required to reproduce that picture under a court-ordered subpoena, which could be why they keep the right to store even deleted photos.

Can the Russians now hack my phone?

Another significant concern is that the app is based in Russia making many users afraid that the Russians can now access anything and everything about them. According to FaceApp, their Research and Development team is indeed based in Russia, but the user data is not stored in Russia.

Again though, if a tech company wants to get your data and information, you probably don’t have to give them permission to do it.

So while it might seem that the controversy over the FaceApp user agreement is much ado about nothing, there are some valuable takeaways we can learn from this Face Aging Trend:

  1. When you use any app, you have to sign a user agreement. You most likely don’t think twice about it and simply click “I Agree”. However, within that user agreement might be some language that would make you feel uncomfortable and make you think twice about agreeing.

  2. We are probably giving a lot of apps and technology companies too much information and access to ourselves. FaceApp may be one of them, but so would Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many, many others.

  3. We need to remember that what we do on the internet is always lingering out there, even if we delete it. And it could come back to bite us in the future.

  4. We all probably need to get more serious about our skincare regimens. If nothing else, this app should serve as a reminder to wear sunscreen, wash your face at night, and start using a wrinkle cream now.

And if you are worried about the FaceApp, be sure to check out our previous post on the 5 Most Dangerous Apps for Teens!

When Right Turns Go Wrong

Right turns are usually a pretty safe bet…

They tend to be much easier to make and safer than left turns. Not to mention, when else do you get a pass to “go” at a red light?

Even still, there are some right turns that can go very wrong. The video above gives a pretty helpful demonstration of how turning right can sometimes wreck your day.

Scenario 1:

You are waiting to turn right onto a road and there is a car approaching with its blinker on.

The blinker makes you think you the vehicle is turning onto the road you are currently on, which makes you think it is safe for you to go ahead and turn. (This is particularly enticing when there is a line of cars behind said vehicle and it looks like this might be your only chance to turn for a while).

So you start to turn, and Bam! That car that was supposed to be turning runs right into you. Right turn gone wrong.

That vehicle may have been planning to turn into a driveway or business just past you, and you misinterpreted their blinker.

Or perhaps the driver realized at the last minute that the street you were on was NOT the street they needed to turn on.

In any case, you essentially pulled out in front of that person.

And you would most likely be considered the majority, if not all, at fault for this car wreck.

Scenario 2:

You are still waiting to turn right onto a street that has multiple lanes going in one direction. There is a car approaching in the far lane, but there is no traffic approaching in the lane you want to turn into.

So assuming that approaching car is going to stay in his lane, you start turning into the far right lane. And again…Wham! That vehicle that WAS in the far lane suddenly finds himself in your lane and hits you.

Perhaps the guy put on his blinker at the last minute, and seeing the lane clear started switching lanes at the exact moment you started pulling out.

Perhaps he saw a lot of brake lights ahead of him in his lane so he wanted to quickly switch to avoid having to stop.

Perhaps he realized suddenly that he needed to be in the right lane to turn into Chick-Fil-A. (Although this would never happen at the Chick-Fil-A near me because traffic is constantly stopped on the road in front of Chick-Fil-A while people turn in, so there is no such thing as “suddenly turning” into Chick-Fil-A around here…)

Whatever the case, you again essentially pulled out in front of someone. And again, you would likely be considered mostly, if not all, at-fault for this car wreck.

SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO:

Do not turn right onto a roadway until you are absolutely certain there is no one approaching. Even if a person approaching appears to be turning, wait until that person has actually turned before you begin turning. (Warning: if there are people behind you, they might start honking thinking you are missing all sorts of great opportunities to turn. But they can take that risk when it’s their turn if they want.)

And if the approaching traffic seems to be in the far lane, not the lane you want to turn into, wait until that traffic has also passed before turning. They have the right to change lanes if it appears to be clear, and too often it happens at the exact moment someone attempts to turn onto the roadway.

You might feel like you are wasting time waiting for the coast to be completely clear, but it is a lot better to waste a few seconds than waste hours (which can turn into days, weeks, months, etc.) if you get into a car wreck.

OTHER HELPFUL POSTS:

Why You Shouldn’t Wave on Other Drivers

Defensive Driving to Avoid Accidents

Stopping on the Shoulder of a Roadway: DANGER!

11 Things to Do If You Are in a Car Wreck

Can I Hand Write My Own Will?

How often do you go on a trip without thinking about, recording, or communicating your plans for the unfortunate event of something going wrong?

If you are like me and more than 50% of Americans, you don’t have a will or a plan for your estate in place.

(And really, I should know better. I have the knowledge and ability to draft a will for myself, but it’s just not something I am thinking about every day.)

However, there are many good reasons that people, including myself, should have a will in place.

The most important thing that comes to my mind is my wishes for my kids, specifically, which family member would take care of my kids if my wife and I both passed away?

I know…nobody wants to think about that.

But losing their parents would be hard enough. Adding a custody battle to that loss would simply be unfair to them. Plus, I don’t really want a judge who doesn’t know me or my family to choose who is best suited to take care of my kids. I owe it to my kids to sort that out before a tragedy happens, even if it is awkward to think and talk about.

But there are other important questions to consider when planning your will:

  1. Who would you want to have power of attorney to make important health decisions for you if you were unable to yourself (like if you were in a coma…)?

  2. Would you want to be resuscitated or kept on life support if either or both were necessary to keep you alive?

    (I would really prefer for my family members NOT to leave that decision up to me…so to all my family reading…make sure this is in your will!)

  3. Who do you want to be the guardians of your children, and do you have any wishes for their education and activities?

  4. Who would you want to inherit your property? Don’t forget about small things, too, that might be of little monetary value but might have a lot of sentimental value.

Do I have to have a lawyer create a will for me?

Honestly, it would be best to have a lawyer draw up an official notarial will. First of all, a lawyer will make sure it is done correctly to minimize the chance that it will be contested after you pass away. There are many small details like language, format, and signature placement that can make your will null and void if not done correctly.

But beyond making sure your will is in the right format to be held up in court, a lawyer will be especially useful in helping you determine what your needs are for a will and estate plan. The more assets you have and the more complicated your family situation, the more complex your will and estate plan will need to be. So again, it is wise to have a lawyer help you identify those needs and make a solid plan for them.

However, you can write your own valid will without a lawyer if you want.

So if I want to hand write my own will, how do I do it?

There is such a thing as an olographic will, which is a will written, dated, and signed entirely in the hand writing of the testator (person making it).

So say you are on your way to the airport for a trip with your wife and you start thinking about all the things that could go wrong. It occurs to you that you have never discussed or verbalized what should happen with your family if your plane crashes. (Morbid, I know, but you know you think about these things too!)

You could literally pull out your kid’s lunch bill and scratch out a quick plan for your intentions. For instance, you might say that you want your entire estate to be divided equally among your three children and that you wish for their Aunt Maggie and Uncle Richard to be the guardians of your children until they reach the age of 18.

Post it on your refrigerator for all to see and voila, if your plan crashes or you and your wife contract some deadly island fever, you can go in peace knowing that you did at least something to make sure your family is taken care of after you are gone.

There are three really important things about an olographic will that make it valid:

  1. It must be entirely written in YOUR handwriting. In other words, typing it up in a Google doc and sharing it with all the people involved would not be valid. Likewise, sending a quick text saying, “Hey, you’ve got my kids if this plane crashes, right?” would also not be valid. (That’s not to say that your children would not ultimately end up with the person you want anyway, but it would be for a court to decide instead of you, and it could get ugly if there are several people in your family who think they should be the guardians.)

  2. It must be dated, also in your handwriting. The date must list the day, month and year. So, for example, you should write June 21, 2019, instead of June 2019.

  3. It must be signed by you at the bottom of the document. You can make additions or postscripts if you have to, but those too must be in your handwriting. Any changes made in another person’s handwriting would not be considered valid.

Other important things:

  • If you have any previously made wills, whether notarial or olographic, you should add to the document that this will revokes any and all previously made wills. In other words, you have to say that your new will trumps any old wills you may have made. This is one reason the date is so important.

  • Olographic wills do not have to be notarized by a notary and two witnesses. However, if the testator is unable to write his or her own will, a will written by a family member would not be considered valid. If the testator cannot write, date, and sign the will him or herself, it will have to be notarized by a notary and witnesses by two other people.

  • Olographic wills can be contested in court, but so can notarial wills. Olographic wills that do not meet the requirements according Louisiana’s laws, it will be considered invalid.

  • In some cases, it might be necessary for the court to prove that the handwriting was indeed the handwriting of the testator with other samples of handwriting.

So the bottom line is this…

If you have a family or property of any kind and have specific wishes for what should happen to it if you die, you should definitely have a will in place. It is best to have a will drawn up by an attorney to make sure it is done correctly. However you do have the ability and right to hand write your own will. This is a right I would use in a pinch rather than instead of having a notarial will made by a lawyer, but is definitely a valid and useful option.

Hot Cars a Threat to Kids and Animals

How many times have you passed a parked car with an animal sitting in it?

Or worse, with a child sitting in it while the car is off?

We Louisianans know how hot that car can be just because we have all experienced those suffocating minutes after turning our cars on and waiting for the air to start circulating.

But imagine just sitting in it…being strapped into a car seat unable to get out.

So the other day my wife challenged me to sit in a car with the air off and see how long it to took before the heat became unbearable.

(Spoiler alert: I told her it would take a while for me because I tolerate the heat really well unlike my wife and kids. And even though the car got really uncomfortable, I probably could have stayed in a little longer…)

I was shocked to find out how quickly the car’s temperature rose after I turned off the engine.

My car started off at 90.5 degrees after having the air conditioning on for a while. However, within 1 minute, the temperature rose 6 degrees.

By two minutes, it was already at 99.9 degrees.

After 3 minutes of sitting in the car with no air on and no windows cracked, the temperature had risen to 106.6 degrees, which was an increase of 15 degrees.

By four minutes, it was 114.8 degrees.

By seven minutes, it was 121.2 degrees (30.7 degree increase). At this point, I was pretty uncomfortable. I was sweating and my ears were getting really red, which is always a sign for me that I’m hot.

By fifteen minutes, it was 126.3 (35.8 degrees increase).

After 22 minutes, my wife decided enough was enough. At that point, the temperature was 129.5, although it had climbed all the way up to 132.4 degrees (41.9 degrees increase!) at one point.

The takeaway for me was that it does not take long for a car to reach extremely hot temperatures.

So in the time it could take you to run into Chick-Fil-A to get your lunch, your vehicle’s interior temperature could go up 25-40 degrees! If you thought you would just be in and out and it would be easier to leave your child or pet in the car instead of going through the very long drive thru, you might be putting your child or pet into a very dangerous and even deadly situation.

In the process of learning about the dangers of leaving children or pets in hot cars, I learned some other surprising facts too.

Did you know…

  • 38 children die on average each year from vehicular heatstroke

  • 2018 was the worst year for vehicular heatstroke deaths since 1990. I would have guessed the number would be steadily going down as we learn more and hear more horror stories from parents this has happened to. Unfortunately, we are not seeing a declining trend.

  • Cracking the windows does not slow the heating process. Many people get a false sense of security from rolling down their windows a bit thinking it will allow for some air flow. This can be a dangerous misunderstanding.

  • On an 80 degree day, it takes only 10 minutes for a vehicle to reach deadly temperatures.

  • Temperatures can reach 125 degrees in minutes.

  • 55% of the deaths of children left in hot cars were unintentional. In other words, the parents or caretakers did not realize they left their child in the car.

  • In 27% of vehicular heatstroke deaths, the child got into the car on its own without the parents’ or caretaker’s knowledge. This is scary. Especially knowing how curious and mischievous my own children are.

  • 88% of children who died from vehicular heatstroke were under three years old. This is not surprising to me because children 3 and under tend to still be in harnessed car seats and they often cannot unbuckle those seat belts themselves to get out of the car if they needed to.

  • 54% of children who died in hot cars were under the age of 1. This is also not surprising.

  • A child’s body temperature can overheat 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. So even though I felt like I could have stayed in the hot car longer, that does not mean a child would be able to handle the heat the same way.

So what can you do?

  1. Leave something you need in the back seat of your car. This will force you to look in the back seat and may remind you that your child is still in the car (or is in there even though you didn’t know…). Suggested items are purses, work keys, cell phones (probably a safer place for it anyway), or even something like a shoe, which you know you won’t get out of the car without.

  2. Keep your vehicle locked when it’s in your driveway or garage. Kids are curious and may want to pretend to be mom or dad and “drive” the car. Or they may get into the car looking for something and find themselves unable to get out. (My five year old has only been strong enough to open the car door himself for a few months.)

  3. Teach your kids to honk the horn if they get stuck in the car. This could be a lifesaver, especially if they were able to get into the car but are not able to get out.

  4. If a child is missing at home, make your cars one of the first places you look. Of course other danger zones like pools and bathtubs are equally as important, but don’t forget to check the car. Even if you keep your vehicle locked, your child may have found your keys and gotten into the car but again may not be strong enough to get out of it.

  5. Be especially vigilant during busy times or changes in routine. This is sadly when a lot of these tragedies occur. There have been many tragic stories of new parents going back to work and not used to the routine of dropping the baby off at daycare only to remember too late. An even smaller change in routine could cause a busy parent to forget such as a day off school, a new route after a move, a new work schedule, etc. And of course busy times of year like Christmas or summer when children are in all sorts of different activities are times that a busy parent or caregiver simply forgets due to lack of routine.

  6. Don’t assume it can’t or won’t happen to you. I hear parents say all the time that this sort of thing only happens to negligent parents or absentminded parents or parents who do not love their kids as much. I have heard people in my own family say, “There is just no way I would ever let that happen. How could I forget about my precious (daughter, granddaughter, nephew, etc.)??? These are dangerous assumptions to make. This type of tragedy happens to people of all education and socioeconomic statuses. It happens to teachers, police officers, doctors, social workers, even rocket scientists! It happens to people who are in the business of child protection but are also simply human.

So the bottom line is this…

Though many of us know better than to leave our child or pet in a hot car, child deaths from vehicular heatstroke are not decreasing. And it does not take long for the temperature inside a car to become deadly, especially for a child whose body temperature raises faster than an adult’s. However, knowledge and preventative habits can help you make sure this type of tragedy does not happen to you.

Why Do I Need to Go to the Doctor After a Car Wreck?

You’ve been in a car wreck but feel like seeing a doctor is a waste of time, especially if you don’t feel badly hurt.

After all, what will the doctor even do if you do not have any major cuts, broken bones, or pain following your car accident?

But seeing a doctor after a car wreck is extremely important, even if you don’t have obvious injuries.

As a personal injury lawyer, one of the first things I do is send my clients to a doctor. But even though seeing any doctor is better than seeing no doctor at all, I encourage my clients to see a doctor who specializes in both internal medicine as well as physical medicine.

So I sat with one such doctor, Dr. Scott Clark of Clark Integrated Medical Clinics, so he could explain how the body responds to the impact of a car wreck.

According to Dr. Clark, it is very common for a person who has been injured in a car wreck to actually feel no pain at first. He compares it to going to the gym for the first time in a while. That same day you might feel fine. The next day you might feel some soreness. And the day after, you may hardly be able to sit or stand without bracing yourself like a 90 year old.

The same is true with trauma following a car wreck. It could take days, weeks, or months for your body to start feeling the effects of the impact from the crash.

And that’s natural…

One reason you may immediately feel no pain or discomfort after a wreck is because of your body’s natural response to danger (also known as the “fight or flight” response). Your body releases a group of hormones called endorphins which activate your body’s opiate receptors. This can cause many feelings like a high or happiness, but it can also have a pain numbing effect.

Because of this, even though your body may have sustained a serious internal injury, you may not feel that injury immediately.

What if it was just a low impact collision?

According to Dr. Clark, even low impact car collisions can produce a dangerous amount of force for the neck and spine. He explains that the neck is a very small structure between the head and torso that is only supported by ligaments, which makes it very susceptible to injury after the force of a collision.

In a rear end collision involving two average sized cars each weighing about 3,000 pounds at a speed of just 7 mph, the force produced could be 6-19 gs.

“To put that into perspective, it only takes 8 gs to put our astronauts into orbit. The difference is that the collision at 7 mph happens in 1-2 tenths of a second whereas the astronauts are put into orbit in over an hour. That timing or lack of timing can cause tremendous amounts of damage to the structures of the spine,” explains Dr. Clark.

What if my vehicle wasn’t that damaged?

People often equate the damage of a vehicle to the amount of injury. Along those same lines, it is often incorrectly assumed that an impact causing little damage to a vehicle would also have resulted in minor injury, if any.

This is an incorrect assumption. As Dr. Clark explains, as our vehicles have become safer over the years, the bodies of vehicles, particularly the bumpers, have become stiffer to withstand more of an impact without resulting in more damage to the vehicle.

But as you probably learned in high school science class, force cannot simply disappear. It has to go somewhere, and what is not absorbed by the bumper or body of the vehicle is usually transferred to the occupants of the vehicle.

In other words, because your bumper is so much more crush resistant, the force of a collision bypasses the car and affects you or your passengers instead.

Because of that, Dr. Clark reports that his office often sees patients who are more injured from a low impact collision that from a higher impact collision in which the vehicle absorbs more the energy from the crash.

*It is also important to know that according to Louisiana law, the amount of damage to a vehicle does not equate to injury. So in other words, the law supports a person’s claim that a low impact, low damage vehicle could have caused significant injury.

Some symptoms to watch for following a car wreck, even a minor impact collision are:

  1. Neck and/or back pain

  2. muscle spasms

  3. pain, numbness or tingling in the arms and legs

It’s also important to be aware of symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury following a collision which could include:

  1. forgetfulness

  2. lightheadedness

  3. dizziness

  4. concussion

But Dr. Clark reiterates that these symptoms may not be present at first which is why it is not safe to assume that a lack of symptoms initially means a lack of injury.

Like I mentioned earlier, I encourage my clients who have been in a car wreck to see a doctor who specializes in both physical and internal medicine.

While seeing any doctor is better than not seeing a doctor at all, many doctors will look for physical signs of injury or rely on the symptoms you report feeling. Again, a lack of physical signs of injury and even a lack of pain at first does not mean that no injury occurred.

It is wise for both your physical recovery and your personal injury case to see a doctor who will evaluate not just the physical signs of injury but the spine as well. Any imaging, like X-rays, that can be done shortly after your wreck would be helpful for quickly diagnosing an injury that may take days, weeks, or months to show symptoms.

If you are in the Lafayette, LA or New Iberia, LA, areas, consider seeing the medical staff at Clark Integrated Medical Clinics. Not only will you be evaluated by a medical doctor or physician’s assistant, but you will also be evaluated by a chiropractor who will use X-rays and their spine expertise to recognize injury to the spine.

The treatment that could follow could include medications, physical therapy, chiropractic care, or even injections if those treatments are considered necessary for your recovery.

Whoever you see, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible after your car wreck. Again, not only will this give you the best chance to recover physically, it will also be important for the value of your personal injury case.

Insurance companies often argue that a person who did not receive medical treatment immediately was not badly enough injured to need it and therefore may not be entitled to full compensation. However, as we know as personal injury lawyers and as Dr. Clark explained, symptoms may take days, weeks, or even months to appear.

If you wait to start seeking treatment until that point, the insurance company will again argue that your injury was not severe or that your pain arose from something that may have happened since the accident.

So it is important to have as much documentation as possible of your symptoms as they progress following a car crash.

OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION:

Dealing with Insurance After a Car Accident

11 Things to Do After A Car Wreck

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim After a Car Accident?

Louisiana's New Car Seat Laws 2019

Louisiana just did a thing.

Louisiana just passed a law that increases the age a child must be properly restrained in a car seat.

Louisiana’s new laws will now reflect the Academy of American Pediatrics’s recommendations for child safety seat use.

It’s a pretty big thing, actually.

Such a big thing that only 12 other states are doing it. According to www.saferide4kids.com, a site that has compiled all states’ car seat laws, the only other states that follow all of the AAP’s recommendations are California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Washington D.C.

(Although many states do require children 8 and under to use a booster seat.)

So provided Governor Edwards approves the new law, this is what you can expect come August 2019 for car seat requirements:

1. Children must stay rear-facing until age two (at least).

Our current laws, like many other states, only require babies to be rear-facing until age one OR until they reach 20 pounds.

In a crash, a rear-facing car seat will absorb most of the force while still supporting the head, neck and spine.

So keeping your child rear-facing as long as their car seat manufacturer’s guidelines permit is the safest way for your child to ride. Many car seats have increased the weight maximums for their rear-facing car seats, making it possible for your child to stay rear-facing for even longer.

Infant carriers can only be used rear-facing.

Infant carriers can only be used rear-facing.

Convertible car seats can be used rear-facing up to a certain weight and then forward-facing longer.

Convertible car seats can be used rear-facing up to a certain weight and then forward-facing longer.

2. Children over age two who have outgrown their car seat’s weight/height maximums can turn forward-facing.

Again, many rear-facing car seats today will hold children well past the average weight of a two-year-old. And keeping them rear-facing as long as possible is not only the best practice and safest option, but it will soon be the law.

The Graco Extend2Fit can keep children rear facing up to 50 pounds!

The Graco Extend2Fit can keep children rear facing up to 50 pounds!

3. CHILdren over the age of four who have outgrown their seat’s weight/height maximums can transition into a booster seat.

Like many infant seats, convertible car seats have increased the height/weight maximums to make it possible for most children to stay in a 5-point harness convertible seat well past the age of four.

If, however, your child has outgrown the height/weight maximum for their seat, they can start using a booster at age four.

When my four (almost 5) year old’s convertible car seat expired (it was a hand-me-down from his older sister…most last much longer), a certified car seat technician told us that if we insisted on getting a booster seat for him, we should get a booster with a 5-point harness. She pointed out that many four-year-olds (and kids much older in fact), do not sit properly in a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt. They flop around, move on strap behind them, slouch, etc. In the event of a crash, that misuse could be deadly.

So now he is happily in a “big boy seat” but still securely fastened in a 5-point harness, keeping his wild boy behaviors from putting him in a dangerous position. When he is able to ride correctly 100% of the time, his seat will transition into a regular booster that uses a lap and shoulder belt.

Some booster seats have a 5-point harness that can be removed once a child is old enough to ride correctly 100% of the time. The seat can then be restrained with a shoulder and lap belt. Many booster seats come with removable backs for when a child is ready for that transition.

Some booster seats have a 5-point harness that can be removed once a child is old enough to ride correctly 100% of the time. The seat can then be restrained with a shoulder and lap belt. Many booster seats come with removable backs for when a child is ready for that transition.

4. Children under the age of 9 must be restrained in a booster seat (if not a convertible, 5-point harness seat) until they outgrow the height/maximum for a booster seat.

This is a big one. My 7-year-old has been complaining for a while that she is the only kid in her class who still has to ride in a “baby seat”. It’s really embarrassing for her when a friend’s parent picks her up and she has to get in with her booster seat.

Many of her friends stopped using a booster seat after age 6, which is what Louisiana’s current law allows for. However, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s most recently released study, only one child between the age of 9-12 (much older than Louisiana’s current law requires) who was properly restrained in a booster seat died in a car crash in the 2017 crash statistics. On the flip side, 40% of the fatalities in the same age range were children wearing adult seat belts.

Booster seats will hold children up to 100 pounds, although many newer models will hold children up to 120 pounds. So even if your child is over the age of 9 and is still under 4’9 and 100 pounds, he or she must stay in a booster seat once this new law goes into effect.

A travel vest is an option for older children or heavier children who can no longer ride comfortably in a booster seat but are still required to be restrained. Some can be used up to 168 pounds.

A travel vest is an option for older children or heavier children who can no longer ride comfortably in a booster seat but are still required to be restrained. Some can be used up to 168 pounds.

5. Children under the age 13 must ride in the back seat (if it is available).

So theoretically, a child who is over age 9, more than 100 pounds, and taller than 4’9 could ride in the front seat IF all the back seats were taken. Otherwise, he or she has to stay in the back. This will probably be another hard pill to swallow for many pre-teens, but I’d rather have a mad pre-teen than a dead or severely injured one. (Plus, they are going to be mad no matter what you make them do, so you might as well keep them safe while doing it!)

So if you were planning on transitioning your child into the next level of car seats soon, you should hold off on doing that, unless their new seat will still meet the requirements once the new law goes into effect. Because nobody wants to tell a 7 year old he has to get back into a booster seat when he has been riding without one for some time.

If your child has already transitioned and the new law will require them to return to a more protective seat, starting now would be better than springing that unwelcome news on them the last day of July. (Can you imagine…summer ending AND having to get back into a “baby” seat?? Oh the horror...)

And if your child is having a hard time accepting the new rules, consider having him or her watch the videos at www.boosterseats4safety.org. They can see what would happen if they were in a car crash and were not riding in a seat appropriate for their height and weight.

Whether they accept it willingly or not, remember that these new laws are based on several decades of data proving that being appropriately restrained makes your child 70% more likely to survive a serious car crash. Every transition into a less protective car seat restraint decreases your child’s safety making them more susceptible to serious injury or even death.

As a parent, I know I would much rather have my child mad at me for making them get back into a car seat than know that my child died or was seriously injured when I could have done something to prevent it.

New Car Seat Laws in Louisiana 2019.png

Social Media Safety for Teens

If you are a parent of teens or pre-teens in 2019, you most likely fall under the category of “digital immigrant” as Jaci Russo calls it. In other words, you most likely did not grow up using a lot of technology, and definitely did not grow up with social media. And so in this digital/social world we live in, you and I are immigrants learning as we go about this foreign world.

But if you are a parent of teens or pre-teens (and actually kids even younger than that), you have no doubt been confronted with questions and concerns over social media and its role in your child’s life. So maybe you have asked around or read a few “Facebook articles” about the dangers of social media.

Perhaps you have overheard from your group of friends some of the drama that takes place online and you find yourself terrified of it.

Maybe you have even taken a hard line with your child and said “no” to a cellphone until high school — and kudos to you if you have because my 4 year old is already asking for a phone, so holding out until high school will be tough.

Or possibly you are in the “ignorance is bliss” camp. You don’t know anything about it and don’t want to know because it sounds like a headache.

And while sometimes it is freeing to go with the “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” mindset, our kids need us to know more about it because they still rely on us to protect them, even if they don’t admit it.

So with the intention of learning as much as I can about what can go wrong when kids get involved in social media, I reached out to Jaci Russo, a social media expert here in Lafayette.

We talked for a long time about everything from the five most dangerous apps for kids to the “Momo Challenge” to whether or not our Alexas are invading our privacy.

If you want to see the entire conversation (which would definitely be a valuable addition to your morning commute) you can listen and/or watch here.

But I’ve broken the conversation up into bite-sized chunks according to topic:

FIVE MOST DANGEROUS APPS FOR TEENS

WHY 13 MATTERS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

If you are interested in staying on top of the latest (and scariest) social media apps your kids might be using, or if you would like to learn more from Jaci about parenting in this new frontier, check her out at www.socialnationu.com.

About Jaci:

Jaci Russo is in the branding and marketing business but began to educate herself on the ins and outs of social media as she started seeing how it might affect her own children. After schooling herself on what was available to her kids, she began making guides for her friends so they could stay on top of it as well.

Today Jaci travels all over the country speaking to students and parents about the dangers of social media and how to stay safe while using social media. She also educates parents on how to be a parent of a “digital native”. She has taken what she teaches to people all over the country and turned it into a series of online courses to help both parents and teens navigate through this new world safely and smartly.

 

Why You Shouldn't Wave Other Drivers Through

If you've ever been stuck in traffic, you have probably helped another driver out by letting them know it was safe for them to turn.

In Episode 8 of Murphy's Law Undone, Blase explains why you should NOT be that nice! Save the good deed for something else, because in this situation, it could end up costing you.