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Kids and Cars: 10 Safety Tips

By David Goguen | Updated by Melanie Rauch, JD | Last updated on

Ensuring the safety of our children while on the road is a paramount concern for every parent and caregiver. With the overwhelming array of safety tips, regulations, and products available, it can be challenging to know where to start. Let's run through these 10 essential tips to keep your young ones safe from infancy through their teen years.

  1. Choosing the Appropriate Car Seat: It all starts with picking a car seat that matches your child's age, weight and height. Whether it's a rear facing seat for newborn as they go through their first year of life, or a booster seat for older children, making the right choice is crucial. Resources like the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, (AAP), offers guidelines to help you find a fit that's just right for you.
  2. Proper Car Seat Installation: A car seat needs to be installed firmly. If it wiggles more than an inch, it's not tight enough. Many places offer free checks and/or installation by professionals who hold a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Certification. Use this service if you're unsure how to properly install it on your own.
  3. Back Seat is Best: To keep kids safe in the car, kids under 13 are safest in the back seat. It's far away from the front seat airbags, which can be dangerous to small bodies in a crash.
  4. Securing Harness' and Seat Belts: Ensure the harness straps or seat belt fits snugly. For car seats, the chest clip should be at armpit level. Shoulder belts should not cross the neck or face, and the lap belt should be snug across their lap. Once they age or weigh out of a car seat, children should transition into a booster seat. You still need to keep them in the back seat and ensure the seatbelt is properly adjusted and snug to keep them safe and secure.
  5. Never Leave Kids Alone in a Car: Even on mild days, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures. Always take your children with you, even for quick errands, to avoid the risk of heatstroke. Leaving kids in a hot car, even for a few minutes, can lead to fatalities.
  6. Educate About Car Safety: Talk to your kids about why car safety is important. Explain how seat belts protect them and why they should never play in or around cars.
  7. Careful with Power Windows: Teach kids not to play with power windows to avoid injuries. Use child safety locks when available. This can avoid their little fingers from getting caught in a window as it's closing.
  8. Check Your Mirrors Before You Back Up: Always check twice around your car before backing up to avoid accidents, especially in driveways where children might play. This will help prevent backovers from occurring.
  9. Choose Vehicles with Child Safety Features: If you have young children, try to choose a car that has child safety features built in, such as window locks, car door locks that prevent accidental opening, and advanced airbag systems.
  10. Keep Up with the Safety Game: Kids grow up fast, don't they? Regularly check your car safety measures are keeping pace with their growth spurts and changing needs. When buying a new car get the best one in your budget that has the optimal chances of keeping your children safe.

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