Written by Dr. Chetan Ginigeri
As a parent, your primary concern lies in the safety and security of your child. And when it comes to vehicles, the risk factors for kids are not quite low. Incidents like leaving children inside the car, kids choking while eating in the car, parking lot accidents, road accidents while reversing, etc., are sadly very high with kids all over the world. For this, you need to be extra careful while driving a car with a kid. At the same time, you need to teach your kids basic car safety information so that they can keep themselves safe in your absence.
There are some basic rules you need to follow as car safety measures for kids. You can start by installing a car seat for babies in your car. Besides, keeping windows on child lock, using seat belts, installing a back camera for safe car reversing, always locking the car in driveways, are some necessary do’s for child safety in the car.
In This Article
Here is a list of things you need to implement in life to make your kid safe in and around a car. Apply them yourself and insist others to do the same for their kids.
A car seat or booster seat is always a safe option for your little one. The regular seats of a car are made for an adult passenger. So they cannot provide ultimate safety and comfort to your child. For this, you need to install a well-fitting booster seat in your car. Many parents prefer to keep their children on their lap while riding a car. But, with this practice, they are compromising the safety of the little one. A booster seat keeps your hands free, and your kid in a proper position.
For a good booster seat, you need to keep this checklist in mind.
It may sound impossible or careless, but the cases of leaving a child behind in the car in a hurry happen a lot. This can be fatal for the child due to suffocation and heat inside the car. Our body is a machine. Sometimes it does some work based on practices without the complete involvement of the brain. We do not contemplate works that have become our habits. We do things instinctively, such as brushing teeth or locking the door. So it becomes necessary to keep the child within your eyesight inside the car to avoid such instinctive disasters.
A rear-facing car seat has this disadvantage as here you cannot see your child through the looking glass. To avoid such a disaster, some parents knowingly leave important stuff like mobile phones or purses on the back seat. Besides, you can talk to your kid occasionally, or check them after some time to keep your mind aware that you are not driving alone.
Here we are talking about leaving the child inside the car deliberately for some time. You may feel it will take only 15 minutes in the grocery shop so let the kid sleep in the car. But this can be equally dangerous. If you leave the car running (so the air conditions run) then your kid may accidentally change gear and cause an accident. To avoid this if you put the car off and the windows closed, then the inside temperature will increase immediately. As the air is stuck inside the car it can cause heatstroke and suffocation during summer.
[Read : Safety Precautions For Kids In Cars]
If you are planning to go somewhere distant with the kid alongside, make sure of proper hydration. Keep water and homemade fresh fruit juice in the car. Let your kid drink them at intervals. This will keep them away from dehydration and heatstroke in the summer. In a country like India, you should always keep your and your child’s body hydrated.
Kids love to have some snacks while traveling. Things like Cheetos and Doritos can be their favorite travel snacks, but they can be dangerous in a moving car. While crossing the bumpers or turning a lane they can accidentally choke the child. And you may not even notice it if the child is seated in a rear-facing car seat on the back. So it is best that if your kid wants to have some snacks, let them have the snacks but only after parking the car.
The involvement of mobile phones increases the accident rates hugely. No matter how important the message is, do not reply while driving. Either stop the car and reply or simply call the person and put the phone on speaker. A few seconds of distraction while driving can cause lifelong injuries or death. And you are surely not willing to put your kid in that danger.
You will have to engage your kid in some activity so that they let you concentrate on your driving. Instead of just giving them a phone to play games, you can encourage reading storybooks or listening to good music. For driving, concentration is very much important. And kids can sometimes break your concentration if they get bored. So do engage them in some activity, especially on a long drive.
In case of an accident, any heavy or sharp item present in the car can cause maximum injury. If you are running your car at 40 miles per hour that means every object present in your car is also having the same speed. Thus. if the car hits something the impact will move everything inside. And if anything sharp or heavy hits your kid, it can be fatal. So use the trunk of the car to store everything you want to carry along with your journey.
You should never put your child in the front passenger seat until they turn 12. In the UK it is illegal; our country doesn’t have this rule, still, we should follow it for our child’s safety. All modern cars have airbags. It takes only 20 milliseconds to open when a huge impact or a car crash occurs. Here hot nitrogen gas injects immediately into thin nylon airbags. It opens at a speed of 257km/h from the dashboard. It is undoubtedly a lifesaving invention, but it is for adults, not for children.
If you place your kid in the front passenger seat in a rear-facing position, then the child comes directly in front of the airbag’s opening area. Thus, you should never install a rear-facing car seat on the front passenger seat.
Even if your kid gets big for the car seat, do not let them sit on the front seat if they are under 12 or 4 feet 5 inches tall. The kid’s head is bigger than the body in comparison with an adult’s. This makes them unstable and vulnerable to accidents. So the forceful opening of the airbag can cause them great harm if not the accident itself.
To teach your child car safety rules you need to practice them at first. Kids learn from what they see. So instead of just teaching, you need to follow basic car etiquette like putting your seatbelt on before driving, looking straight while driving, obeying traffic rules, or keeping your hands inside the car while driving. Your kids will learn from your gestures from their very childhood and follow them for life.
You must show care and love to your kid to comfort them on a long-distance car journey. They may otherwise feel tired or irritated or annoyed. Your praise or affectionate kisses can give them the strength to endure the tiresome journey.
If you are traveling with a kid then you must take occasional halts in between some miles. The tiny tummy of your non-diaper kid cannot hold much pee at a time. So they will need a washroom every 1/2 hour to let it go.
While journeying on highways, you will find refreshment shops, dhabas, and petrol pumps. Take a break, have some tea and snacks, use the washroom and let your child use the washroom too if the place is clean and your little one’s toilet-trained. This will give comfort to both you and your little one.
If you are driving long distances, always keep emergency numbers and necessary medicines with you. Emergency numbers like the local police number, numbers of some nearby hospitals, traffic control number, and your family members, etc., should be in your pocket.
In case of any unfortunate situation or accident, these will help you a lot. Also, have the medicine you may need on the journey, especially for your kid. At least take the prescription with you so that you can buy medicines if required. You can consult your pediatrician for a list of medicines you must keep handy while traveling.
So these are some basic car safety rules you need to follow in your everyday life to protect your kid from any dangerous situation. Also, teach your kid what to do if they come across such situations. Make them observe the rules so that it becomes their habit.
It is safe to let your child sit in the front seat only after they turn 13. It is a rule in Uk and even your car manufacturer will advise you the same.
Airbags, seatbelts, and anti-lock brakes are some basic safety equipment in a car. Besides, tire-pressure monitors, accident avoidance systems, traction control, etc are also necessary car safety features. To make your car safer you need to use both shoulder and lap belts. Also, you need to stay calm and focused on the road while driving.
To make your car safe from accidents, obey all the traffic rules. Give your car regular servicing. Do not drink and drive and restrict night-time driving.
Dr Chetan Ginigeri is an experienced Pediatric Intensivist with national and international training. With 15 years of experience, he is one among very few Intensivists in India trained to take care of children who need/had organ transplants. He has been responsible for coordinating the Pediatric Organ Transplant program.Read more.
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