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Car Safety Tips for Kids

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Being safe hile on the road is essential for all passengers in the vehicle-especially your children. Their vulnerability makes them more susceptible to injury, and it's up to their responsible parents and caretakers to protect them.

Read on for the most important safety tips to keep your little ones secure and protected on every car trip.

Use the proper car seat

The most important part of your child care safety is assuring you have the correct car seat and that it is properly installed. When choosing a car seat for your child, keep the following in mind:

  • What type of car seat do you need?: The car seat you choose should be appropriate for your child's size and age. Be sure to refer to the product description to ensure it is suitable for your child. You must also confirm that it can be used in your vehicle.

    • Infants: Babies should be in rear-facing car seats until one year of age (at the minimum) and until they weigh at least 20 pounds. If your baby exceeds the suggested weight or height limit in the seat's manufacturer instructions, you should switch them to a convertible rear-facing car seat.

    • Toddlers: These little ones should remain in a rear-facing convertible seat until they outgrow it. Once this occurs, switch them to a forward-facing car seat. It should have a full safety harness to ensure they remain safely secured in the seat.

    • Young children: Once your child outgrows his convertible seat, he can use a booster seat until he is at least 4-feet and 9-inches tall and can wear an adult safety belt correctly.

  • Read the instructions: Thoroughly read your car seat's instructions to learn how to properly install it and to make certain it is correct for your child and vehicle. Your car's manual may also contain special instructions for installing a car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors (known as the LATCH system).

  • Install your seat properly: After reading all pertinent instructions, making sure your car seat is properly installed is vital. If you are unsure, you can call the manufacturer with questions or attend a car seat inspection events where certified technician can assist you with installation.

  • Buying a used car seat: Make sure you are aware of the crash history of any used car seat you are considering for purchase. Never buy one from a secondhand store or online-trusted friends and family members only should be providers of pre-owned car seats.

Using a safety belt

Your child (and you as well!) should always be secured with a seat belt in your vehicle-no exceptions! Make sure to follow these rules when implicating proper safety belt rules:

  • Keep kids in the back: No matter how much she begs for the coveted status of front-seat passenger, your child should still remain in the backseat until she is 12 years old-even if she is tall enough to wear an adult safety belt.

  • Wear it every single time: Never let hectic schedules or busy days distract you from ensuring your child is safely buckled up before hitting the road. Verify he has fastened his belt before you even turn your key in the ignition and check regularly that it is still on while you are in transit.

  • Wear it properly: The lap belt should lie across your child's upper thighs and the diagonal belt should cross his chest up to the space between his shoulder and neck. Adjust the belt before beginning your trip to for a correct fit. Make sure you secure both belts at all times (in cars that have lap belts and shoulder belts separate) and don't allow your child to tuck the shoulder belt underneath his armpit.

  • No sharing! While usually a virtue, sharing when it comes to seatbelts can be dangerous. Each child should be in his or her own seat, with individual safety belts securely fastened.

Air bag safety

While air bags are life-savers that have protected many from death or serious injury during a collision, they can be deadly to young children sitting in the front seat. They can open with a force of up to 200 miles an hour, designed with the ability to protect a full-grown from injury.

To protect your children from head or neck injuries resulting from a deployed airbag, consider these tips:

  • Keep your child in the backseat: Your child should remain in the backseat until he is 13 years of age, even if he can wear the adult safety belt without a booster seat. The middle of the backseat is the safest place for your child.

  • Deactivate the airbag: Car manufacturers are required by law to include a manual cut-off switch in every vehicle that will temporarily disable your passenger air bag. If for any reason you must have your child in the front seat, you can deactivate the air bag for the duration of the trip. Always remember to reactivate the air bag once your child is out of the car.

Never leave children unattended

Shockingly, nearly 40 children die annually due to heat stroke from being left in a hot vehicle. Always remember:

  • Never leave your child alone in a car: No matter how quickly you think you can jet in and out of a store, never leave your child alone. Your car can grow up to 20 degrees hotter in just a few minutes and cause your child to suffer heat stroke.

  • Make sure your child isn't in the car: You may think it could never happen to you, but it's happened to the most diligent parents and babysitters-they completely forgot they had a little one in the car. Get into the habit of always glancing into the backseat before you lock your car to ensure your child is not in the vehicle. Other methods include car seat monitors, or keeping a stuffed animal in the car seat, then placing it on the passenger seat next to you as a reminder a child has taken its place in the car seat.

Establish rules

Kids play their role in practicing car safety as well. Establish rules for riding in the car and enforce them during every trip:

  • Keep calm. Make sure your children understand how crucial it is to display good manners inside the vehicle. Insist they remain relaxed and refrain from being loud, distracting or excessively excited while in the backseat. Behavior that can distract the driver is dangerous and can cause an accident.

  • Make rules apply for every car. Let your child know he must follow your establishes rules in any friend or relative's car as well-even if you are not there. That means no sitting in the front seat, even if the adult driving the car permits it.

  • Keep hands to yourself. Your child should know she should not touch anything in the vehicle-no door handles, window controls (child safety locks should be activated if your vehicle has them) other passengers, seats, headrests, seat belts-hands to yourself or your personal belongings at all times.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on June 20, 2014

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