*Why Iím A Firm Believer In Seatbelts and Airbags*
In the course of a persons life, one will usually have at least one car wreck. I happen to be one of those unfortunate people who have had several. But I can tell you, that in each wreck, I was wearing my seatbelt, and each time, it saved my life. There will always be the debate of, "If so and so had been wearing their seatbelt, they would have died." While that can certainly happen, it is MUCH more of a rarity than fatalities without seatbelts. According to statistics from the National Transportation Safety Administration, in 85% - 90% of car crashes where a traumatic death resulted, no one was wearing their seatbelts. There is also a misconception that if you have airbags, you donít have to use seatbelts. WRONG! If you look on a vehicle equipped with airbags it will say, "Equipped with SRS." SRS stands for Supplemental Restraint System. Supplemental meaning the airbag is to be used as a supplement with the seatbelts. Iíll talk more about that later in this article.
I had my first major crash when I was 19 years old. It happened in Carabelle, FL when I was on my way home from work. It was POURING rain and I was driving my dadís 1986 Chevy Silverado pick-up. I remember hydroplaning, then the truck spinning out of control, going airborne, then rolling over side to side and cart wheeling bumper to bumper. I had my seatbelt on, but this particular vehicle was prior to standard airbags, therefore it was not equipped with them. Once I started rolling, I simply sat back, closed my eyes and thought, "Iím going to wreck, thereís nothing I can do now." I consciously remember two impacts, then nothing until a whoosh of air hit me. I was unconscious, but I could hear everything that went on, and at some points, I could see, but I couldnít move or speak.
Eventually, they cut me out of the truck, which had wrapped around two huge pine trees, and took me to the hospital. I was there for a little over two weeks with a broken neck, but no neurological deficits. I never got to see the actual wreckage when the truck went to the salvage yard, but I did see pictures. That truck was demolishedÖunrecognizable! If I hadnít been wearing my seatbelt, Iíd have been thrown from the truck and probably crushed by it. Statistics show you have a 25 times greater chance of dying in a crash when you are thrown from your vehicle than if you stay in it.
My second major crash happened this past January during a major ice storm. In my Job, I have to go to work even while authorities are advising people to stay off the roads. I was on my way to work, and my Jeep Cherokee hit an ice patch, spun out of control, then rolled down a 30 foot cliff. Once again, I was wearing my seatbelt, but because there was no front end impact, and I was traveling less than 35 mph ( I was doing about 20 mph), the airbags did not deploy. I was conscious the entire time, and once the truck came to a stop at the bottom of the cliff, I was dazed and sore. I also realized I was at the bottom of a 30 foot ravine, sleet was falling, and it was very cold. There was no one around who saw the wreck, and no one could see the Jeep from the road. I knew Iíd have to get out and climb up the cliff to get help. And thatís what I did. Then I walked a quarter of a mile to the closest house and called for help. I had relatively minor injuries from this crash, but once again, had I not been wearing my seatbelt, I most likely would have been ejected from the vehicle and been hurt much worse, if not dead. EVERYTHING in the vehicle was thrown out during the multiple rolls down the cliff.
My most recent wreck was in April of this year, and I wrecked my brand new Nissan Xterra I got after crashing the Jeep. This time someone pulled out in front of me, and I hit them in a T Bone type collision. This time, I had both seatbelts and airbags as protection. I can tell you right now from first hand experience, airbags HURT! But the alternative is much worse. If I hadnít been wearing my seatbelt and only had the airbag for protection, my face and head would have hit the steering wheel and probably the windshield. Also, my knees would have hit the dashboard which can result in anything from fractured or dislocated patellas (knee caps) to fractured femurs (thigh bones) and pelvis. I did have some burns on my right forearm from the airbag, but had I not been wearing my seatbelt, I probably would have had the burns all over my face as well.
How do I know that I would have most likely suffered those injuries? Because Iíve been a paramedic for 15 years and Iíve seen all of these types of injuries first hand. And I can tell you this, and Iím sure many of the other EMTís and Paramedics here will as well, I have seen far more fatalities or life debilitating injuries due to lack of seatbelt usage than with. How does this relate to survival? Survivalists prepare for bad situations and do everything they can to avoid getting into survival situations. Simply put, wearing your seatbelts and having airbags is a survival measure to save the most import thing you haveÖyour life
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