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Have you ever been tied down so that you can’t move for hours? This is how children feel when they are traveling in a car, or at least, this is how children who travel long distances feel. Most parents feel torn between the desire to make their children feel comfortable in the car and the rules they have set at the very beginning of the car trip.
It is a fact that motor vehicles are considered the biggest “killer” of children. And while it used to be impossible to survive some of these dramatic events, more than 60% of the accidents could have been prevented if the children were sitting in a suitable car seat.
The good news is that the proper use of age-appropriate car seats save lives. Such seats reduce fatal injuries when it comes to infants and older children. Here is a shortlist of things you can do to protect your children when traveling by car.
The Front Seat
Never place your child’s car seat in the front seat of a car (especially if there is an active airbag). If your children are younger than 13, they should always sit in the back seat and be buckled appropriately, preferably in the middle seat where it is safest. Airbags can kill children!
Rear-Facing Is Safest
Put your child rear-facing as long as possible. Typically this is when they reach two years old or the maximum height/weight by the car seat manufacturer. A child is five times less secure facing forward, so the longer, the better!
Second-Hand Car Seats
Be very cautious if you have chosen to buy a second-hand child car seat. Remember that you are not familiar with the seat’s history, so you can’t really know if it was in an accident or whether there are any invisible damages or cracks on it. Be on the lookout for missing labels, parts, and instructions.
All child car seats that are sold in specialized stores should be certified according to American safety standards. This is usually marked with a sticker located on the car seat. Always check that this sticker is there when buying your child a car seat, especially since most car seats expire after six years.
Always make sure you read the instructions of the child’s particular seat. They are there for a reason. And, don’t modify the design in any way either.
This means do not add or remove anything from it. Do not use it in a way that is not described in the instructions for use. And lastly, do not change the installation instructions.
Making Sure The Car Seat Fits
It is not necessary to buy the most expensive seat – instead, choose the one that fits your vehicle and your needs, budget, and requirements best. To start on the right foot, check out Cars.com. They have a massive database of new and used cars for sale nationwide, plus useful tips and tools for car owners.
When strapping in your child, make sure the straps are sufficiently tight. The seat itself should be firmly attached and fits well on the seat base. You can find Car Seat Safety checks for your particular vehicle on Cars.com too. This will let you know if your car can accommodate a particular type of car seat and whether its latch system meets your needs.
Lastly, drive carefully and always put on your own seat belt. These two steps are the easiest way possible to protect the people you are traveling with.
How long did you keep your kids rear-facing?
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.