Whether you’re a first-time parent or have several children, your child’s safety is often a concern. When it comes to your vehicle, you want to make sure that your car is built to protect your child.
Why Should Children sit in the Back?
Traditional airbags that can protect adults can harm children who sit in the front seat. The force of the airbag deploying has the potential to damage teeth and cause harm to the face and neck. Additionally, by placing a child safety seat in the passenger seat, the infant will receive the impact in the back of their heads from the airbag deploying.
Why Does the Type of Car Seat Matter?
The car seats are specifically designed for the safety of your child/infant. A rear-facing/rear-facing-convertible car seat should be used for children under the age of 1 until they reach the top weight or height limit listed on the seat. The next seat for your child will be a forward-facing car seat. This car seat has a harness and is kept in place by the seat belt and the lower anchors and tether of the car. Children should remain in this seat until they exceed the height or weight limit specified by the seat.
Once your child has exceeded the limit for their front-facing seat, they should have a booster seat until their seat belt fits them properly. This is typically when they reach 4 feet and 9 inches in height and are 8-12 years in age. All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat. However, if your child is tall enough and their seatbelt fits them properly, they can ride without the booster and may even be able to ride in the front seat depending on their size.
What are the Most Common Ways that Children are Hurt?
Heatstroke– Children are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults and heatstroke stands as one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities for children. Heatstroke begins when body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit and enters a lethal stage when body temperature reaches 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
Warning Signs for Heatstroke
- Red, Hot, and Moist or Dry Skin
- No Sweating
- Strong, Rapid Pulse, or Slow, Weak Pulse
- Confusion or Strange Behavior
When you’re not in your vehicle make sure that the doors are locked and that your children do not have access to your keys. 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths occur when a child gains access to a vehicle on their own.
What to do if you see a Child Alone in a Vehicle
If the child is not responsive or is in distress, call 911 immediately. Get the child out of the vehicle if you can and if they feel hot to the touch, spray them with cool water. If the child is responsive, stay with the child until help arrives. If possible ask someone else to search for the driver of the car and ask the facility to page them.
Backover accidents occur when a vehicle coming out of a driveway or parking space backs over an unattended child.
- Teach children not to play in or around cars
- Always walk around your vehicle and check the area before backing up
- Be aware of small children
- Teach children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in it or if the car is started
- Have children stand to the side so that they can be seen while you pull out
- Roll down your windows
- Teach children to keep toys and bikes out of the driveway
- Use direction/rear-aid devices
Things to Look for in a Car
Rear shoulder belts- these are safer for children. Adjustable rear shoulder belt anchors – allow you to secure the seat belt on your child’s chest instead of their face or neck. Take your child with you when test driving a car to make sure that the car is designed for their safety. Child safety locks prevent doors from being unlocked from the inside and opened while driving.
Anti-pinch automatic windows prevent windows from closing whenever they sense resistance. In other words, the window will not close on your child if they have their fingers or arm out the window.
Vehicles produced after 2007 are required to include both shoulder and lap belts in the backseats.
Cars produced in 2002 and on will have the latch system installed.
Safety Features that Protect Kids in Cars
- Side-Impact Airbags
- Advanced Frontal Airbags
- Rear Seat Belt Warning Systems
- Automatic Door Locks
- Anti-Pinch/Auto-Reverse Windows
- Child Safety Locks
- Interior Trunk Release
- Backup Cameras