Buckle Up Baby

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Protect your precious cargo with these car safety tips

Sitting in traffic, a common form of entertainment often lies in observing other commuters trapped in their stationery/slow crawling vehicles. It’s become an ordinary occurrence to see a young child fidgeting in the space between the driver and the co-driver. Perhaps they have gotten their way and are riding ‘shot gun’, banging on the glove compartment or reaching for the steering wheel. Many think this is merely a youngster keeping themselves entertained. We spend so much time commuting that we forget that little ones need to be taught about safety in and around cars. As adults, we are charged with the task of keeping them safe, even if it means some tears and fits in the process. Since the 1960s, where the main form of safety was a parent flinging their arm out to catch their kids should an accident occur, a lot of research and upgrades have been added to this game plan.

If you were born after seat belts and airbags became requirements by law, you probably went through the car rite of passage. That is, you had to sit in the back seat until you were well into your teens to ride in the front seat. It wasn’t your parents being unfair, only letting your older sibling to sit upfront. Remember, children’s bodies are smaller than adults and thus can’t withstand as much impact. Under the age of 13, the neck, back and stomach muscles are still weaker than an adults, their heads are additionally disproportionate to the rest of their body. This makes it harder for them to keep their body in an upright position, during an accident. The result is that they are more likely to be propelled forward with more force, further increasing the damage caused by the airbag/impact.

The thing is, road injuries are one of the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths in children. To think that correctly installing and using a child safety seat, could reduce the risk of death by approximately 71 percent. Thus, we’ll look at aspects of car safety from buying the right car seat to lessons to teach them when using the school bus.

Car Seats

There are so many car seats to choose from! Thankfully, you have the guiding principles of the child’s age, weight and height to make the car seat truly safe for the journey. Each seat will have their own recommended limits, so it’s imperative to read them before use.

Rear-Facing & Rear Facing Convertible Seats

These are perfect for infants from birth up to two-years old. These seats should be placed on the back seat always. Should your toddler reach the maximum height and weight before their second birthday, it’s time to move on to the next car seat type.

Forward-Facing Seats with Harness & Convertible Seats

By the time your toddler is a preschooler, this is their ideal seat. This should be between the ages of two and five.

Booster Seats

Once they start school, or if they exceed the weight-limit of the forward-facing seat, they should be riding in a booster. Most kids at this point are from the age of five and are around 4’9” tall. Children can use the booster until the age of 12 years. When buckling the seat belt, the lap should not be across the stomach nor should the shoulder be across the neck. Rather, it should fall on the upper thighs and chest respectively. All the seats mentioned thus far must be used in the back seat. Ensure that you install all the above following the seat owner’s manual!

Seat Belts

Once the belt can fall across the thighs and chest without the booster, they are ready to sit directly. You also want to check if the knees bend at the seat’ edge when their back is against the vehicle’s seat. Additionally, their feet should be able to touch the ground. That said, not all cars have the same belt and thus the safety belt check test should be done in any new cars. All children under the age of 13, must sit at the back. In fact, the safest place for them is the middle of the backseat. Your child could be killed by the airbag, if they’re sitting in the front seat during an accident.

Driveway Rules

Children shouldn’t just learn about safety within the car, but around it as well. Drivers may not always be aware of children near the vehicles, consequently children do get injured by cars in driveways and parking lots. Teach older child to move into safe spots where the driver can easily see them once the cars start to move. With smaller children, ensure you’re holding their hand when walking near moving cars in parking lots, driveways and when on sidewalks. When alighting or getting into cars, a parent should always be present to assist and keep them in their line of vision.

School Bus Basics

Once they start to go to school using the provided transportation, they should be taught how to properly get on and off the bus. Remember, this will probably be the first time they’ll have to deal with those giant stairs. You also want it to become a habit that they learn to stand at the designated bus stop and wait there until the bus arrives. They should also stand in a position that the driver can easily spot them, yet they shouldn’t be too close to the curb. Furthermore, they should learn to wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before boarding. Lastly, learn road crossing rules that will aid them once they alight from the bus. Remind them that they should also buckle up in the bus.

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