Before you hit the road make sure the car is not a danger zone. Vehicle safety goes far beyond merely choosing the correct car seat for your child. Here are some eye-opening car safety tips that will help you childproof your vehicle:
1) BUCKLE ALL THE TIME
a. Secure unused child restraints–especially boosters as they are loose when child is not in it. Teach your child to buckle the booster upon leaving car.
b. Make sure unused shoulder belts are not in reach of children as they can pose strangulation risk.
c. Seatbelts are not for play, especially, Automatic seatbelts, as they can cause strangulation.
2) ELIMINATE PROJECTILES
Anything in the car that is not secured is a possible projectile. In a crash, object takes on greater weight due to crash forces. This “new weight” can be calculated by multiplying the weight of object by the car’s speed at impact; a 5 lb. box at 25 MPH becomes a 125 lb. projectile.
a. Store all groceries, equipment, toys, etc. in trunk of car or behind last passenger seat
b. Use “crash tested” gear in car. (baby mirrors, shade, etc.)
c. Store tethers on CRS properly so they don’t become a projectiles in a crash.
d. Pets require vehicle restraints. (35 lb. pet @ 45 mph becomes a lethal 1,575 lb. projectile in a crash.)
3) PROPER CAR SEAT INSTALLATION
a. Thoroughly read BOTH car seat manual and car manual from manufacturer before installation and for choosing best location for CRS in vehicle.
b. Do not use a shoulder belt with air bags to secure infant carrier or CRS. (2011 Ford Explorer) These are ideal for use with belt positioning booster seats.
c. To find an expert near you, you can call 1-866-SEAT-CHECK or click here.
d. No more than an inch of CRS movement side to side or front to back.
e. Keep rear facing for as long at CRS allows. Don’t graduate to forward facing too soon.
4) BEST MATCH CAR SEAT FOR EVERY CHILD @ EVERY STAGE
a. Best practice is to buy a child restraint that best fits your child, your car and offers the maximum weight, age and height limits. Retailers will allow you to see if it “fits” in your car before buying.
b. It’s important for parents to buy a child restraint that is easy for them to install so consistent, correct installation is achieved.
c. Keep your child in a booster until age 8 or until he is 4 feet 9 inches tall. The law is the minimum requirement.
5) TRUNK THE PURSE
Talk or texting is too much of a temptation for busy moms. Make the car a “No Phone Zone”
a. After securing child in the child restraint, place your purse with cell phone in it, in the trunk.
6) DON’T FORGET YOUR BABY IN CAR
The death rate of children left in hot in vehicles has increased since cars seats were moved to the back seat in the early 1990’s. It can happen to the best of parents so practice prevention with these tips:
a. Place your purse or cell phone on floor under the seat in front of the child’s car seat as a reminder.
b. Have your daycare provider call you within 30 minutes after your child has not been dropped off.
c. Attach a toy the child’s car seat. After putting child in car seat attach toy to self as a reminder.
7) KEYS ARE NOT TOYS-HIDE THEM
Many new cars have automatic-start/unlock/open remote key fobs. These key should be out of reach and hidden from children as a child should NEVER enter a car unsupervised.