Every day, parents use cars to transport their children to and from activities and school. Unfortunately, automobiles cause the most unintentional injury-related deaths for children under the age of 14. Children under the age of 4 are twice as likely to be injured or die in a car crash if they do not use safety restraints. To protect children from injury or death, parents and guardians should practice proper use of safety restraints and become aware of high-risk vehicle situations. Below are some automobile tips for child safety within motor vehicles.
Use Safety Restraints
Because children are small, vehicle safety belts do not fit them properly. As a result, safety belts are not appropriate protection for children during a car crash. The first automobile tip is to use safety restraints.
The type of safety restraint to use depends on the size and age of the child. Types of restraints include infant safety seats, child safety seats and child booster seats. When choosing a restraint, make sure it is compatible with the make and model of the car it will be used in and is the proper size for the child. Using child safety seats reduces the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for children between the ages of 1 and 4.
Children are often removed from safety restraints too soon. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that children do not fit in adult shoulder/lap belts until they are 58 inches tall and weigh 80 pounds. Older children who have outgrown safety seats should use a booster seat in addition to a seatbelt.
Check Installation of Safety Restraints
The second automobile tip for child safety is to check the installation of all safety restraints. Studies show that 85 percent of child safety seats are improperly installed. If a seat is used incorrectly, death and injury are not prevented and can be made worse. When it comes to child safety, the NHTSA recommends that you follow these six guidelines:
– Make sure your child rides in the back seat
– Make sure your child faces the correct way
– Ensure the child safety seat is secure
– Make sure the seat belt/harness buckle fits firmly but snugly across your child
– For children in the 40-pound to 80-pound weight range, make sure he sits in a booster seat
– Make sure your older child fits properly in the vehicle’s seat belts
Parents should also check periodically to see if their child’s safety seat has been recalled. After a crash, a new safety restraint should be purchased as the old one may have been damaged and is unsafe. Parents can also find many government and nonprofit organizations that will check to make sure a restraint has been installed properly for free.
Avoid Airbags and Cargo Areas
While saving adult lives, airbags can endanger children during an automobile accident. Cargo areas in pickup trucks and SUV’s are also unsafe and can increase the risk of dying 10 times during a crash. The third automobile tip is to avoid airbags and cargo areas.
Airbags inflate at speeds close to 200 mph. When striking a child, an airbag can injure their head or neck, and even cause fatal injuries. Cargo areas are just as dangerous, and children can be ejected during an accident which is the main cause of death for cargo passengers. In a covered cargo area, passengers are in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning from exhaust fumes. Over half of the deaths caused by riding in cargo beds are children and teenagers. The safest place for a child to be is in the rear seat.
Do Not Leave Children Unattended
Never leave children unattended in a car. Left alone, children are likely to explore and get into trouble. A child might be able to trap themselves in the trunk which could lead to asphyxiation or hyperthermia. They may also be able to start the car or disengage the parking break. Very hot or cold temperatures can also result in injury or death to children left unattended in an automobile.
Teach children to not play in or around cars, and always lock the vehicle. Keep the keys to any vehicle away from children, and never leave them unattended in the car.
These automobile tips for child safety are important for saving innocent lives during automobile accidents. By avoiding airbags and cargo areas and using properly installed safety restraints, child injury and death from vehicles can be prevented.