Your child’s relationship with cars often starts with their very first journey home from the hospital. This is often a stressful experience for parents as it is your responsibility to ensure your child’s safety during the travel home. Usually, it is this first drive which highlights just how dangerous the road can be. The leading cause of death in infants and children is unintentional injury, with car accidents topping that list. In many cases these injury’s could have been prevented by following simple safety measures and by following these tips, you can reduce your child’s risk whilst on the road.
1- Avoid driving whilst tired
It may sound simple, but with all the new responsibilities that come with being a new parent, sleep is often something that we have to sacrifice. But there are still errands to run and places to go. The risk of falling asleep behind the wheel is greatly increased on long journeys especially when the driver has had no rest. If you find yourself particularly exhausted and overstretched, it may be beneficial to opt for a bus or taxi or get a lift from a friend or family member to reduce the risk all together.
2- Ensure your child is in the proper seat for their age
The National Highway and Safety Administration recommends that the seat a child should be securely bucked into should be dependent on their age, height and weight. From birth to 12 months, infants should sit in a rear-facing car seat. The child should remain in a rear seat until 1-3 years old and their weight reaches in limit given on the guidelines of your car seat. From the ages of 4-7 years, your child can make the transition to a forward facing seat fitted with a harness until their height determines otherwise. Then a booster seat should be introduced until they have grown enough to use an adult seat belt. Children should remain in the back seat until the age of 12. This is due to passenger air bags which could potentially smother a child in the event of an accident.
Always make sure to refer to manufactures instruction when installing a car seat.
3- Seatbelt safety
In order for a seatbelt to be effective it must be worn properly. Ensure your child’s belt is resting across their chest and shoulders, never across the neck. Don’t let the child place the seatbelt under their arm or behind their back. It may feel more comfortable for them but it renders the seatbelt useless in doing its job in an accident. If you have more than one child in the car, never let them share a seatbelt.
Always ensure that your child hasn’t taken their seatbelt off during part of the journey. A seatbelt should be fastened before the engine starts and unfastened after the engine has turned off.
4- Power Windows
Children can hurt themselves when a window closes on their finger, wrist or hand. Some children have even seriously injured their necks on automatic windows. To prevent this be sure to use parental locks on the windows or to use a car which only uses power windows in the front or just the drivers seat.
5- Preventing Heatstroke
Children die each year from heatstroke after getting into a car unnoticed by an adult or being left alone in the vehicle. It is useful to know that heat stroke an occur in a car when the temperature is relatively low outside. Heat stroke acts fast, particularly with children. Even if you are going into a shop for a minute it is not worth leaving your child unattended.