Child Passenger Safety Week is September 19-25 and it’s a very important cause: car crashes are the leading cause of death of children 3 to 14 years old. What’s worse is that 2010 is the predicted to be a record-breaking year for the number of children who die from heat-stroke related causes in parked cars. Overall, an average of four children under the age of four are killed in motor vehicle crashes every day in the U.S., but many injuries and fatalities are easily preventable. For example, taking simple steps such as locking power windows or using booster seats in the car can make trips much safer for your precious cargo. Read on for more tips on how to protect your child in the car:
- Teach your children safety. Rollaway deaths, trunk entrapment deaths, and backover deaths are horrible tragedies that can be averted if you teach your children where and when they should play. Remind your children that they should not play in or around cars, and to move aways from a vehicle when someone gets in and starts the engine.
- Install child seats. Safety seats can reduce vehicle-related injuries by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. In pickup trucks, fatalities are reduced by 58% for infants and 59% for toddlers. However, you have to make sure car seats are properly installed for them to work properly. Visit the NHTSA website for instructions on how to install a safety seat in your vehicle. Also, make sure that your baby faces backward, toward the seat until they weigh at least twenty pounds or are 1-years-old. In contrast, toddlers should face forward in car seats, and don’t graduate them too early to the regular car seat–they should be in a booster seat until they are at least 4’9″ or 8-years-old.
- Never leave children alone in a parked car. Even cool outside temperatures in the 60s can cause a car to heat up to 110 degrees in the inside. Children trapped inside can quickly succumb to heat stroke and death.
- Protect your pregnancy. When pregnant, protect your unborn child by wearing the seat belt low across your belly. Contrary to some myths, it’s safer to wear a seat belt, even when eight or nine months pregnant, than not to wear one and die during a car crash.