Driving has become such an everyday chore that we rarely ever think about it. We drive to the store, to drop off the kids at school, to pick them up, to go to the mall, and to work. But have you ever thought about how dangerous it really is? For our kids, this is especially true: car crashes are the number one killer of children age 1-14. What makes this statistic even more startling is that the proper use of car seats and boosters could have prevented over half of these fatal injuries. Here are the top ten basic tips to help keep your kids safe:
• If your little boy or girl is under 12, they should ALWAYS ALWAYS ride in the back seat. Just by enforcing this rule, you cut their risk of death by 36%.
• Kids should be in a car seat or booster seat until they are tall enough to properly use a seatbelt. For most kids, this is 4’9″ or around 8 years old, but really, it’s whenever the seatbelt sits properly across their chest and lap.
• Don’t place a rear-facing car seat in the front if your front seat has an active frontal airbag.
• Keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible. For most current seats, that means up to 40 pounds or until they outgrow the height of the seat.
• Every current car seat on the market has passed government safety standards; select the one that fits your child, your vehicle, and your budget and allows you to use it correctly each time.
• When you get a new car seat, read the manual cover to cover. They often contain specific instructions and information that may not be apparent when you’re first setting it up.
• With every new car seat, make sure the harness fits securely to your child, the car seat fits snugly in your car, and that your vehicle seatbelts are properly locked every time.
• Always have a good return policy in case your new car seat doesn’t fit or you find you don’t like it. You can also get a certified technician to inspect your car seat for free at one of the numerous checkup events that are hosted by hospitals or daycares.
• If you can, don’t use a second-hand car seat, especially those over six years old. If you do choose to buy a used car seat, demand to know it’s history of crashes and make sure it has proper labels, model number, manufacturing date, instructions, and parts.
• The most important thing you can do to protect your child in the car is to give all your attention to driving. This is not the time to multitask so put down the phone, turn down the music, and pay attention to the road. And ALWAYS ALWAYS wear your seat belt!