There are a lot of things to fear in this world. Allow us to add another thing to that list: shopping carts. In 2005 alone, according to a recent study, 24,200 young children were admitted to emergency rooms in the United States for shopping cart related injuries. About three quarters of those were head injuries.
That year wasn't unsually: shopping carts are just way more dangerous than you might think, given how common they are. The study estimates that, between 1990 and 2011, 530,484 children under the age of 15 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to shopping carts. To break that down, the researchers point out that that’s “66 children every day, or one child every 22 minutes.”
Over 70 percent of the time kids who got hurt fell out of carts, and 84.5 percent of the injuries occurred in kids under four. This might not be news to parents, who have long watched their kids squirm in shopping cart seats. In 1991, the New York Times called shopping carts “a menace for the very young.” The U.S. even instituted a “voluntary shopping cart safety standard” in 2004 to try and make carts safer.
The researchers propose a few ways to make carts safer:
Some carts have a narrow wheel base, which could be widened to decrease the likelihood of a tip over. A factor in rearward tip overs is the placement of the cart handle and child seating area in relation to the rear cart axle. The horizontal distance rearward from a cart’s rear axle to a vertical line dropped from the cart handle varies substantially among different cart designs. The greater this horizontal distance, the more likely that downward pressure on the handle will cause a cart to tip over backward.
According to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) a few key things make cart injuries more likely, things like missing or broken restraints, wiggly kids and user errors like allowing kids to ride in the main compartment of the shopping cart. Because if kids are good at anything, it’s taking a supposedly safe activity and turning it into a parental nightmare.