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How to correctly use a child seat belt in winter, insurance excess advice & don't swallow this fake news

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler’s 'watch-outs of the week'

20 May 2022 - 14:45
Parents may unwittingly undermine the protection a child car seat offers in the winter months.
Parents may unwittingly undermine the protection a child car seat offers in the winter months.
Image: IgnitionLive

In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:

Leave the experiments to the scientists

This week Perry sent me an e-mail about the Grandpa headache powder video doing the rounds online. “I received it from a friend of mine and it is most disturbing,” she said. “I wonder if you could please investigate the truth behind it.”

The video shows a couple emptying a sachet of Grandpa into a teaspoon and then holding a lighter underneath it, causing it to bubble immediately, let off a pungent smell and turn to liquid. They then they pour the liquid onto a plate where it hardens to “superglue”.

“And this is what we put into our bodies!” they say in horror, in Afrikaans, alleging that it will “glue your organs together”.

No-one I know has the ability to create a flame in their stomach, for starters.

Remember that video which did the rounds about four years ago, about how you can tell if you’ve bought “plastic” rice? We were earnestly told that you cook it up, roll it into a little ball and throw it against your kitchen wall and if it bounces, that means it’s plastic. How utterly ridiculous, but it’s the kind of nonsense people believe and share.

The credibility of an information source is critical.

The legendary GP Sindi van Zyl — who died last year from Covid-19 complications — was outspoken about Grandpa headache powder, and not because of what it does when it’s heated up in a teaspoon. In her much-shared Twitter thread, she warned that while the ingredients of Grandpa — aspirin, paracetamol and caffeine — each had their uses, together they were problematic, and highly addictive.

“The addiction to the cake (her nickname for the product) is gradual. Initially, one slice suffices; the pain is relieved. However, when the pain returns it is slightly worse than before. We call this ‘rebound’. Two slices of cake are needed to fix rebound pain. Then three slices, then four.

“What you don't know is that the aspirin is doing its job as an antiplatelet. Your blood is thinning. What you don't know is that the cake is starting to irritate your stomach lining. There is only so much cake one can eat before it has a negative effect. The cake comes with a disclaimer: 'You are advised not to eat it for more than 10 days without consulting your physician'. By the time the 10 days is up, you're addicted.”

Now there’s a warning worth sharing.

Are bulky clothes risking your child’s life?

The National Road Traffic Act stipulates that children under the age of three must be strapped into a car seat and that those under the age of 14, or shorter than 1.5m, must also be strapped into one “if available”.

Many parents fail to secure their children in cars at all, but those who do may be unwittingly undermining the protection the child seat offers in winter, according to insurer 1st for Women.

Your child should be dressed only in clothes they would wear inside your house. This way their harness can be securely fastened and be as snug as possible
Seugnette van Wyngaard, 1st for Women head

“Bulky jackets create the illusion that your child is safely buckled into their car seat when the opposite is true,” said 1st for Women head Seugnette van Wyngaard.

“That jacket will compress during an accident, making the harness loose and leading to an increased risk of injury.

“The problem with a thick jacket is that the harness may appear to be tight on the child when there’s too much space created by the soft fabric between the jacket and the child.

“Your child should be dressed only in clothes they would wear inside your house. This way their harness can be securely fastened and be as snug as possible.”

There’s an easy solution to keeping the child warm in the car in the chilly mornings and evenings.

“Use their jacket to cover them like a wearable blanket when they are in their seat.Turn the jacket around and put it on the child backwards with their arms through the sleeves.”

Best you check that excess payable on your car

A lot of car buyers, particularly first timers, are attracted by package deals of the car finance plus insurance sort.

Consumers have a tendency to zoom in on the amount they are liable to pay monthly on any deal, paying little to no attention to the numbers and conditions behind that monthly commitment.

It was only when a KwaZulu-Natal woman’s budget car — which she’d bought eight months before — was written off after catching fire that she discovered what the excess payable to the insurer was: a whopping R14,250.

Excess is the first amount payable by a client in the event of a claim. When I asked her what her premium was, she didn’t know — all she could tell me was: “I was paying a R6,108 instalment which included the insurance.”

With a high excess, you usually pay a lower monthly premium and if your car is written off by your insurer the excess will be deducted from the final amount paid out.

If you bought the car fairly recently, this will most likely leave you with a substantial debt to your financing bank should you not have the protection of shortfall cover.

GET IN TOUCH: You can contact Wendy Knowler for advice with your consumer issues via e-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za or on Twitter: @wendyknowler.

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