These are just some of the words I have heard in recent days to describe a controversial Nationwide commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. In the "Make Safe Happen"
advertisement, a little boy details the activities he will never experience ... because, he tells us, he died. In the next frames, we see an overflowing bathtub, an under-sink cabinet with doors thrown wide and household cleaners inside, and a television that has toppled from a console onto the floor.
While the fatal accidents these scenes imply are terrifying, such incidents are real and happen every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
nearly 9 million children are seen in emergency departments for injuries per year, and more than 9,000 youths ages 19 and younger die as a result.
Still, the commercial is receiving an abundance of backlash. It was shocking. It came without warning. But these are not the best words to describe it.
Important. Informative. Misunderstood.
That is how I describe it. Many were too upset to notice its point. The commercial elevated a vital message: Accidents at home can be prevented. Unfortunately, the steps to avoid such accidents are often overlooked.
Nationwide was not just attempting to sell insurance; rather, it showcased a great resource it produced for child safety, www.MakeSafeHappen.com
, and the partnering app. This website and app promote child safety, offering safety tips and hidden-hazard warnings for children -- from newborn to 12 years old -- categorized by location within the home and by risk category.
I applaud the company for shining light on an issue that has changed my life and my family's life forever. My son, Shane, died
in 2011, when he was just 2 years old, as a result of a furniture tip-over accident. This was a threat we had never considered.
Like many families, we purchased every safety item from a major retailer's baby-proofing display and installed them before Shane's arrival. We took steps to safeguard our railings, used gates by the stairs, covered every outlet and more. Could things have been different had we shopped at a different store or if our furniture came with anti-tip devices? If we had had the MakeSafeHappen.com resource when we were childproofing, would Shane still be here to grow up and learn to ride a bike, fly, travel the world with his best friend or get married?
I am left to only imagine his beautiful face, and wonder each day what he would look like now.
I started the nonprofit Shane's Foundation in honor of my son to empower families to prevent tragedies like the one I endured. I did not need this commercial to remind me of my own horror. There is not a moment I don't think of him, and how I might be able to prevent another child dying from overlooked home hazards. I now spend much of my time telling Shane's story and sharing home safety tips with families that receive them with gratitude.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of childhood deaths
The site www.MakeSafeHappen.com
now serves as a resource for parents, grandparents, babysitters and teachers. Do you have a child between 12 and 23 months? The website teaches you how to install guards to keep your toddler safe around windows. Is your child 10 to 12 years old? Make Safe Happen provides tips to keep your preteen safe from pool injuries. Fires, tip-overs, poisoning, car safety ... they're all covered on this important website.
Some believe the Super Bowl commercial intended only to sell insurance. Others believe it furthered the notion of "helicopter parents" and the coddling of children. Still others say this ad aired at the wrong place and time. I disagree. Nationwide is not new to the issue of child health: It partners with Nationwide Children's Hospital
, which has housed the Center for Injury Research and Policy since 1999.
Children deserve the freedom to explore, to learn and to be independent. The safety tips provided by Make Safe Happen help make your home safer for that exploration. This commercial landed exactly where millions of viewers were watching with their families, so children, older and younger, saw the commercial, too. While Nationwide might have raised difficult questions for parents to answer, I hope its commercial led to a crucial discussion in your family and encouraged you to safeguard your home from hazards you may not have known were there.