Kids and Car Safety


Kid-Safe Cars - 10 Ways to Protect Your Children 

By Brie Latini 

1.  Put Down Your Phone: Before you change one thing about how your car operates, change how you operate your car. Place your phone in your glove compartment and set your auto message to say "Driving- will get back to you soon." Make the commitment to place all of your concentration in driving your vehicle. 

2. Properly Install Car Seats and Boosters: When shopping for a car seat, do your research. Check out safety ratings, reviews from other parents, and consider what seat is the most compatible with your vehicle. You can visit SaferCar.gov to learn how to install your seat and can have your handiwork double-checked by most law-enforcement stations. 

3. Activate child-safety locks: Inside the car door of most vehicles is a switch that will make the door unable to be opened from the inside, safeguarding against curious little hands that might pull the door handle of a moving car! 

4. Strap Them In: Do I seriously need to say that seat belts save lives? I will shout it from the rooftops if I have to. Seat belts, when properly worn, save lives. And don't just buckle the kids in- be the example you should be and fasten your own seatbelt every time you drive. It could not be any simpler than that. 

5. Check Things Out Before You Lock Up: SaferCar.gov recommends making sure that your vehicle is clear of all passengers before you lock up. By the same token, if a child is missing, be sure to search in nearby vehicles to see if the child may be hiding inside. Once empty, make sure your car is locked to prevent the possibility of a child trying to hide inside.  

6. Take Your Key With You: According to SaferCar.gov, leaving your key in the ignition can result in the possibility of your car being put into gear and rolling away. Always take your keys with you and, particularly if you are parked on any kind of incline, engage the emergency break. 

7. Rear-Facing Reminders: Children in car seats, particularly children still in a rear-facing seat, can be at risk for being forgotten and left behind in the car. A sleeping child, a different route to work, or any change in your normal routine can cause the mind to wander and forget a quiet infant in the back seat, leaving the child vulnerable to exposure to extreme heat or cold. Any and every type of parent can be susceptible to this kind of mistake. Leaving your purse in the back seat, setting an alarm on your phone, or placing a diaper bag on the front seat can remind you that your child is with you and avoid a potential tragedy 

8. Prevent Entanglement:  A seat belt can save your life, but it can also become a hazard if played with or used improperly. A loose belt can wrap itself around the neck, limbs, or head. Let your children know that seat belts are not playthings. Make sure that your child is restrained properly, without any slack in the belt, and that your child is always sitting up (not laying down if they fall asleep or are tired). If your child is in a car seat that uses the LATCH System, make sure unused belts are out of reach. 

9. Watch The Windows: Power windows can pose a threat to small children who play with the buttons, causing fingers, hands, limbs or even necks to be crushed or trapped between the glass and door frame. Avoid this by reminding children that the window buttons are not to be played with, and that they should ask permission before adjusting the glass. If your car is equipped with this feature, you can disable the buttons on the passenger doors. 

10. Be Careful Exiting Your Driveways: Backover (when a car hits a child while backing up) can occur when a driver does not see a small child behind the car. This can happen if a child is playing in a driveway or has darted behind a car just as it begins to move. This can be prevented by checking behind the car before you pull out. Set firm rules about driveway safety and continually enforce them with your children. 

SaferCars.gov is an amazing resource on how to keep your children safe in and around motor vehicles. Please visit this website, part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for a comprehensive summary of any and all safety recommendations.    

Brie Latini is a New Jersey-based writer. You can read more of her work at her personal blog, {…a breezy life}.

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