Keep those kids safe in the car!
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Since the holidays are upon us, that means that a lot of us are going to be traveling...we are heading to the frozen tundra of South Dakota with 2 littles (almost 3 yr old and 1 yr old). It is a wonderfully boring 13-hr road trip that usually takes 15+ hrs for rest stops, potty breaks, and general stops to combat meltdowns. I know that car seat safety isn't the most fun or glamorous topic out there, but I believe it is SO important for the well-being of our kiddos. Here is a quick list of things TO DO and NOT TO DO:
1) Get a safety-tested car seat that fits correctly in your vehicle. This Britax infant car seat is the one we used for both boys. We did extensive research, and chose according to the Choosing By Advantages method (yes, we are those people). After our first son got too heavy to carry in the infant seat, we stuck with our Britax brand and got this Marathon ClickTight convertible car seat for both vehicles. When our second son needed a convertible seat, we tried the Graco 4Ever All in One. While I like both of them, we love our Britax Marathon with the ClickTight feature. This makes installing a breeze, and much easier for kiddo ins/outs. *I would recommend that a car seat is one item that you should purchase new, but if you do get one from a TRUSTED friend, check to be sure that it has never been in any sort of accident and that the expiration date is still current. Most of these have up to a 10-year window, so they last through most of the baby/toddler years.
2) Install car seat in the back seat rear-facing; make sure it is level and according to the owner's manual. If you are not sure if it is correct, most fire stations or police departments can check them for you.
3) KEEP YOUR CHILD REAR-FACING FOREVER!!
Okay, if not forever, then as long as you can. This is probably one of the most important tips. I know that most parents are thinking, "Well, they look really cramped" or "They want to look out the window" or "My friend so and so turned her kid around at age 2 and he was fine...". Just please take all these thoughts and throw them out. It is much better for your child to have a little cramped leg room than for them to have a serious or fatal injury due to a car accident. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for children 4 years and older. Using the correct car safety seat or booster seat can help decrease the risk of death or serious injury by over 70%. (AAP) Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain rear-facing as long as the weight limits on the car seats allow. My almost 3 yr old is still rear-facing, and he will stay that way for awhile, since our car seats go up to 40 lbs in rear-facing!
4) Make sure the harness and chest clips are placed appropriately according to the user's manual. Chest clips should be at armpit height, and harness should be pulled tight so there is no give to the straps. Don't add any layers underneath the harness or inside the seat itself. So in the cold, lay the coat or blanket over them once they are strapped in.
5) Pay attention to any recalls and expiration dates...even though it may seem inconsequential, an outdated car seat may mean significant trauma to your child that could possibly be prevented. This link below has some very good information about expiration dates.
6) Make sure you are using the correct child restraint system for each car ride. Because car seats weren't created with safety in mind until 1962, some people still have incorrect beliefs toward them. "Well, we didn't have car seats or seat belts, and we rode in the front seat when we were kids" doesn't matter much if you do get in a collision. I call it 'survivor bias', and most people have it because they were lucky enough to never get into a serious collision, or they were protected by the grace of God. I, for one, do not want to take the chance when we have the information and technology available today. There is a ton of helpful information out there about keeping our kids safe in the car. I encourage you to check it out for further advice on these quick tips.
Wishing everyone safe travels and a blessed Christmas!