Sometimes it feels like we spend more time in our car than we do in our own home. Between carpool, running errands, and taking kids to and from activities, the kids are spending a lot of time on the road.
Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old. Many deaths and injuries can be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts. It’s important that all parents and care givers have the safety information and car seat instructions so that they can make sure your child is properly restrained. Here are some tips to help make sure your child is safe while in the car.
- Visit a Safe Kids child restraint check-up event. There are over 500 safety inspection stations across the U.S. that are set up to help teach parents how to safely transport kids. Many safety stations are located in GM dealerships, hospitals, or fire stations. Check for an event or check-up station near you at www.safekids.org.
- Buckle up your child for every drive, starting with the first ride home from the hospital. Set a good example by buckling up for every ride, too.
- Keep babies in a rear-facing car seat until they are about 2-years-old. Check your state law and car seat manufacturer’s guidelines for height and weight. Kids receive the best protection from head, neck, and spinal injuries in a rear-facing position.
- When installing forward-facing car seats, attach the top tether after tightening the lock and seat belt or lower latches. Ensure the seat is securely fastened before putting your child in the car seat. Tug on the seat, and if it moves more than an inch, it has not been installed properly.
- Treat kids like VIPS: keep them in the backseat until they are 13.
- Check car seat labels to determine if they are an appropriate fit for your child’s age, height, and weight.
- Toys can injure kids in a crash, so only bring soft toys than can be secured and can’t float freely in the car.
- Check your car seat’s expiration date, as most car seats expire within six years. Check the label to make sure it still meets safety requirements. If it is out of date, discard it in a dark trash bag so it can’t be pulled from the trash and reused.
- Don’t buy a used car seat from a thrift store or Craigslist, as it is important to know the history of the car seat by knowing the previous owner. Once a car seat has expired or been in a crash, it is deemed unsafe and must be discarded.
- Use the pinch test to ensure the car seat straps are snug enough. When buckled in, parents should not be able to pinch extra fabric on the strap around the child’s shoulders.
- Your child is ready for a booster seat if he exceeds height and weight limits, his shoulders are above the harness slots, or his ears are above the top of the car seat.
- Have a portable booster seat handy (such as the BubbleBum inflatable booster seat) on vacations to use in taxi rides, rental cars, grandma’s car or for that extra unexpected little passenger in daily carpooling. They are easy to pack fitting into a large pursue or backpack and easy to inflate. Kids are 59% safer in booster seat than just a seat belt. BubbleBum meets and exceeds the US FMVSS213 safety regulations and has been awarded the Best BET Booster award by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety multiple times.
- Never leave a child alone in the car, as the temperatures in a car can escalate quickly in warm weather and cause a heat stroke or even death. Leaving the car running to keep kids cool or warm depending on the weather is not safe as a running car is a target for thieves and toddlers are able to accidentally engage the vehicle if they get out of their seat. Always take kids inside when you are running errands.