You may have bought the safest family car there is, and you may be the safest driver, but there’s no way of telling what lies ahead on the road. While you can’t avoid all accidents, you can ensure that your children are protected against them as much as possible. Careful driving is only a tiny part of ensuring your child is safe in the car. It’s critical to ensure that car fixtures and fitting also won’t hurt children, as little fingers have an incredible ability to get trapped in the weirdest of places. Their own car seat, if badly installed or the wrong size, could even be putting them in danger.
While they’re out of the car, on the driveway or in the parking lot, they’re in danger not only from other cars but from your own. It’s important to be aware of all the dangers that face your child around cars, so as to decrease the chances of something going wrong. Don’t leave your children’s safety in and around the car to chance, follow these simple rules to ensure that they’re as protected as they can be.
Find the right car seat
A good car seat will protect your baby in the unfortunate event of a collision, but it should also be comfortable, and stop the child from being able to wriggle away too easily. Car seats should be chosen based on age, as a seat too big or small won’t offer any protection, and could potentially put them in even more danger. Make sure you check online for baby seats reviews before you make a choice – other parents experiences and a breakdown of safety features are invaluable.
Install and use the seat correctly
Once you’ve got a great seat, make sure you follow the instructions to the letter when you install it. A badly installed car seat can actually endanger the life of the child if it becomes dislodged during a collision or a hard break. Even once it’s in, you need to make sure it’s used correctly. Never leave a young child to do up their own seat belt, and even with older children, check that they’re inserted properly before setting off. There’s isn’t a lot of point spending all that money on a great car seat for it not to be used effectively.
Don’t let them overheat
When your child is in the car, make sure they’re comfortable. The back of the car can be a completely different temperature to the front, especially when you have the air conditioning or the heater on in winter. Keep leaning round to check that their space isn’t too warm or cold. And remember, never ever leave a child in a car unattended, even just for a minute – the temperature inside the vehicle can rise dramatically, putting them at serious risk of heat stroke and even death.
Be careful with seatbelts and windows
Car fixtures can be a danger to children’s safety. Windows can be wound up causing fingers or wrists to get trapped, and some children have even been strangled by power windows. Seatbelts offer a similar danger, as they can get entangled if the belt is pulled out too far, which can cause serious injury. Using car seat belts on children too young can pose a critical danger, especially during a collision. If they’re too small to be protected by the seat belt, they could be choked or even ejected from the vehicle if something goes wrong. Always use the seat belt provided with the car seat, and follow the instructions closely. Never leave them unattended in a car, and check they’re comfortable and safe regularly while traveling.
Use booster seats for older kids
Once a child has outgrown its car seat at around age four, it’s really important that they don’t go straight into the car seat, but that you buy a booster seat for them first. This is partly so they can see out of the window, which should stop any car sickness, but also for their own safety. A booster seat means the child is more closely held by the seat belt in the case of a collision. If they sit straight on the car seat, they face the risk of strangulation, head injuries, or even ejection from the vehicle.
Don’t let them use the car as a toy
Kids seem desperate to get in the driving seat and pretend to be driving as part of their roleplay. To them, a car is an exciting machine which only grown-ups get to play with. If children play around the car they are liable to get trapped in seatbelts, break something, trap their fingers or arm, or, at best, drain the battery. There is also a significant risk of getting trapped in the trunk of the car, which could lead to suffocation. If they’re not discovered and the car gets driven, they’re put in serious danger in the event of a collision. As your child gets older, try to talk to them about car safety, and why playing in the car is dangerous.
And remember to drive carefully
You could be the safest driver of all time, but mistakes can be made. Situations like vehicles rolling away into traffic when the key is in the ignition but the foot are off the brake can put a child at risk, so it’s always worth being extra aware when you’re driving with a child in the car. They’re at greatest risk in the driveway, as it’s not uncommon for them to be reversed into while playing, especially if they’re short enough to come under the rear-view mirror. Always perform a visual check around the car for children (and even animals) including under the car before setting off, as you never know where they thought a clever hiding place could be.
Car safety for children is all about following the baby seat manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, but also being vigilant when you’re in and around the car. Kids have an incredible ability to do ridiculous things, which could endanger their lives, so it’s worth always being aware of what they’re up to, and not leaving anything to chance.