Seats and Heat: Keeping Kids Safe in the Car
Keeping kids safe in the car should be a top priority for everyone. Cars may be a wonderful convenience, but they can also be quite dangerous. From accidents to overheating, cars present many potential hazards. For this reason, children should be properly protected whenever they are inside a vehicle.
Keeping Kids Safe in the Car with Seat Belts
First up, let’s talk about seat belt safety. Besides being the law, buckling a seat belt is just a great way to prevent injuries or even death. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children aged one to 13. Before anything else, the best solution is to buckle up. The seat belt is a first line of defense for keeping kids safe in the car.
Car Seat Selection and Safety
For kids too small to use the seatbelt, a children’s car safety seat is just the ticket. Of course, it is important to choose a safe, secure car seat. Beyond that, it needs to be properly installed. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the children who died in car crashes in 2017, 37 percent were unrestrained and 59 percent were in car seats that were being used incorrectly.
Keeping this in mind, how does a parent choose the correct car seat? First, it is important to take your child’s height and weight into consideration. Each manufacturer will have different height and weight limits, so be sure to check on the instructions set by your individual product.
Younger, smaller children should use a rear-facing seat. As the child get taller and heavier, you can transition to a convertible or all-in-one car seat. As they get too big for these options, the next safety option is to use a forward-facing seat and then a booster seat. Above all, be sure to look for positive reviews and safety standards before choosing a car seat.
Follow Installation Instructions
Read and follow the instructions carefully to learn how to properly install the car seat. Above all, it should be installed in the back seat of the car, preferably in the center. The goal is to place the seat far away from active air bags. If these deploy near a child in a car seat during a crash, they can do far more harm to the trapped child than good.
Calling for Outside Help
For extra peace of mind, parents can get their car seat installation inspected at participating police stations, fire departments and auto shops. Many of these have certified inspectors who can make sure your seat is properly and safely installed.
Finally, register your car seat with the manufacturer. As regular readers of this Safety Blog know, there are often recalls of products that may be accidentally hazardous to children. By registering with the company, you will be alerted to any of these potential safety issues or recall notices.
Overheating Danger: Don’t Leave Children Alone in the Car
One of the golden rules for keeping kids safe in the car is to never leave them alone in a closed vehicle. When parked, the inside of a car can become dangerously hot. This is true in the summer and beyond. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security just because the weather seems mild.
According to a Consumer Reports test, even when it was 61° F outside, the temperature inside a closed car reached more than 105° F in just one hour. For a child locked inside, this can be quite dangerous and even deadly.
Excluding crashes, heatstroke is actually the leading cause of deaths in vehicles for children aged 14 and under. Children are far more susceptible to heatstroke than adults. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child’s body heats up three-to-five times faster than an adult’s body. Even though the temperature may seem mild, it can quickly become a fatal danger. This happens far more often than people realize. The best advice is to play it safe and never leave a child alone in the car. It’s not worth the risk.