10 ways to protect your children in the car
March 7, 2017 at midnight
In addition to keeping your baby safe inside your home, it's also important to take correct care of them while traveling. Here are ten tips to keep your child safe in the car:
- Choose the right seat: Purchase a seat based on your baby's height, weight, and age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing seats for children up to two years of age. Invest in a first-hand seat since used seats that seem fine may still have internal structural damage that is not visible. Pick a seat that comes with two-piece retainer clips which toddlers cannot unbuckle easily. The seat should fit comfortably in your car, and come with clear instructions to make installation easy.
- Buckles: According to Centre for Disease Control statistics, 34% of children under 12 who died in car crashes in 2014 were not buckled-up. Ensure your child is buckled up. The strap should be tight enough so that you are not able to pinch the fabric.
- Most seats come with three shoulder strap levels, ensure that you use the right one. The retainer clip should be at the shoulder level so that it can hold the harness in place. For rear-facing children, the shoulder straps should start slightly below their shoulders. If the straps are way below the shoulders, they may slip off. Seats should be reclined at an angle of about 45 degrees so that the child's head and chin rest safely and their airways are open. Harness the seat properly; otherwise, it might come undone during the journey.
- Warm clothes: In winter, extra layers of clothing will make it difficult to buckle your child in properly. It is advisable to put a blanket on the baby to keep it warm, rather than dressing them up in coats.
- Safest spot: The CDC recommends that children under 12 should ride in the back seat. The middle seat in the back is the safest spot in the car for your child. Don't seat your child in the passenger seat since an inflated airbag can cause fatal injury.
- Booster seat: Experts suggest moving your child to a booster seat only after they turn four, or if they become too big for their seats. Booster seats should be used till the child turns 12, or grows to 4 feet 9 inches.
- Crying children: Do not divide your attention between driving and caring for the child. If your child needs attention, pull over where it's safe.
- Mirror to watch your child: Install a mirror in the front and adjust it so that it allows you to check on your child at a glance, without really taking your eyes off the traffic.
- Leaving your child in the car: Between 1990 and 2015, 755 children died of heat strokes in locked cars. The temperature in a locked car can increase by 30-40 degrees in an hour, and 75% of this increase happens within the first five minutes. Temperatures over 104 degrees Fahrenheit can be fatal for a baby.
- Even if you are running a quick errand, it is best to take your baby with you. With the infant out of sight in the back seat, parents may sometimes forget about it. Don't!
- ￼￼￼￼￼Hygiene: A seat covered in absorbent material will keep your child comfortable. Safety experts also say that washing harnesses and straps can damage the material. If they get dirty, they should be replaced, not washed.
- Safety kits: Always keep a first aid kit in your car. It's also wise to carry some emergency refreshment. A flashlight, candle, matches, as well as extra clothing (particularly when it's cold), are recommended. A functional spare tire is mission critical. Never skimp on safety!