How to Keep Your Child Safe in the Car

Paige Geis Bradshaw

Today’s cars come with all sorts of safety features. Cameras with multiple viewpoints, lane assistance, collision detection, automatic braking—the technology gets better and better every year!

But even with all these improvements, you’re still the one behind the wheel. Check out these tips on how to keep your child safe in the car!

Buckle Up

Unless you live in New Hampshire, wearing a seatbelt isn’t just about safety—it’s the law! Seatbelts save lives; plain and simple. Of all fatal car accidents in 2020, only 44% of drivers had been wearing seatbelts. More lives could have been spared with buckled belts.

Require your child to wear their seatbelt and set an example by wearing yours—even on short trips. If your child is still in a car seat or booster seat, make sure they’re in the appropriate seat for their height and weight.

Tie Down

While we hope to never end up in a car accident, it’s important to prepare for one with every trip. Why? For the same reason we wear helmets on bike rides and keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen—just in case.

If you’re bringing large or heavy items along for the ride, be sure to secure them properly. Whether you keep the items in place with a seatbelt or other tools like cargo anchors, securing your load will prevent the items from striking passengers in an abrupt stop or accident.

Activate Child Safety Locks

Annoying as they may be for adults, child safety locks really do make a difference during a drive. Kids have a tendency to touch just about everything—especially if they know they’re not supposed to!

Child safety locks on windows and doors prevent your child from pinning their arms, hands, fingers, and even heads between the window and frame. They also make it impossible to open the door while the car is in motion.

Roll Down in Reverse

If you’re in an area where kids are at play, roll your window down while in reverse. This will help you hear if someone behind you is yelling “stop!”

Always move slowly in reverse, check your blind spots, and look behind you—even if your car includes a backup camera. Kids are quick! It only takes a second for them to appear if they weren’t in your view before.

Eat in the Kitchen, Not the Car

Though convenient—especially on road trips—it can be risky to feed your kid while the car is moving. Rough roads, sharp turns, and sudden stops are all choking hazards for your child.

It’s best to locate a rest stop and pull over for a snack or meal. If that’s simply not an option, stick to foods like applesauce, yogurt, or pudding to prevent choking.

Sound, Safe Sleep

It’s not uncommon to find parents driving around the block to lull their newborn babies to sleep. No matter your age, the car has a way of making many of us ready for a nap!

Always keep your child in their age-appropriate seats and restraints, even if they’re dozing off during the drive. Every now and then, check on their sleeping position. If their neck is bent forward, they could be cutting off their airway. Instead, move their head to the side or position it onto their headrest.

Check the Back Seat Before You Leave

When life becomes routine, we often transition into autopilot. We park the car, turn it off, and head into the store to get groceries without much thought.

Make it a habit to check the back seat before you leave the car. It may sound silly, but it never hurts to take a look—just to be safe! This seemingly small step can save your child from a criminal break-in or suffocation on hot summer days.

Keep the Doors Locked at All Times

Kids are curious. They like to play pretend in the kitchen, backyard, and yes, even the car! But cars are not toys.

Even if your car is parked in the garage, keeping the doors locked will prevent your child from climbing in and playing with buttons and gears. They won’t get trapped or stuck inside, either!

Knowing exactly how to keep your child safe in the car isn’t always easy, but with some practice, you can implement these and other safety tips to help ensure that your little one always has a safe ride. 

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