Saturday, August 19, 2006

good motoring

More on seat belts
H. Kishie Singh

Ladies and gentleman, we have started our descent for New Delhi and will be landing in about 40 minutes. Please return to your seats, and remain seated. Fasten your seat belts and please remove pens, glasses, combs and any other breakable and sharp objects from your breast pockets. Thank you."

These are instructions that the airhostess gives to passengers when the aircraft is about to land. I was reminded of these instructions when I ran into a friend in a shopping arcade. "I am having my reading glasses fixed," he said.

"What happened?" I enquired. "They were in my shirt pocket and the seat belt passes over the pocket. I braked hard, was thrown against the seat belt. The Emergency Locking Restraint (ELR) held me in place so tightly that my glasses broke." So, there you have it. The reason why the airhostess tells you to remove all breakable and sharp objects from your breast pocket. A ballpoint pen with retractable refill is sharp and only millimetres from your heart. Itís not difficult to visualise the damage that can result.

"And how is your wife?" I asked, "She is sitting in the car. She is expecting the baby any day now." I thought I would say hello to her so I walked over to the car.

Horror of horrors. She was in the passenger seat in the front. The seat had been moved as far back as it would go, the back rest had been reclined to allow the seat belt to fit the rather large tummy which had her baby.

If the ELR seat belt had broken a pair of reading glasses, it would be entirely possible that the lower part of the belt across the tummy would exert extreme pressure on the tummy and affect the unborn child and mother with dire consequences. Stop for a moment and think what can go wrong.

If the woman is at the end of her pregnancy, first-aid equipment should be kept in the car.

You should also have phone numbers of your doctor and hospital. These should be in your cell phone memory. Carry a couple of clean towels, sterilised cotton wool and gauze, a couple of bottles of water, and surgical gloves.

I always have a pair of surgical gloves in my car in case I have a puncture and have to change wheels. Itís a chore I donít look forward to. Before touching the tyre I pull on the surgical gloves.

It would also be helpful if you took some instructions from your doctor. All this may sound excessive and unnecessary but some women can deliver a child without any fuss and in record time.

City dwellers may not have to worry but if you live in a rural area and the hospital is 20-30 km away Ė remember the boy scouts motto, "Be prepared."