Being a parent is very complicated and sometimes requires mastering the art of compromise. There is one thing for sure that you do not want to compromise and this is the safety of your child when driving. Keeping a child safe in a vehicle is possible and requires attention. Statistics shows that, unfortunately, around 2 thousand people die in car accidents every year in Britain, including 800 children aged 13 and younger. Nobody is 100% protected from a car accident. No matter how well you drive, there are other drivers on the road that can be less careful. That is why you have to take care of you child by providing maximum protection while being in the car.
Car safety begins with awareness of parents that transporting children in the vehicle requires special attention. This protection begins with very small steps, including:
- Seat children that are younger than 12 in the back seat;
- Use restraints corresponding to age and size of the child;
- Follow both vehicle manual and child restrain manual;
- Buy a vehicle that has high crash test rating;
- Do not leave children alone in the vehicle.
Modern cars are equipped with the best safety systems and airbags that protect adults in the event of car accidents. However, safety protector and airbags are dangerous for children and in some cases can be even lethal. That is why it is a legal regulation in many countries to keep children under 12 years old in the back seat using child’s restraints.
You will agree that it is safer to ride when children are sitting at the back seat, using child restraints that correspond to the child’s age and size. When children become old enough, they start using safety belts for adults. Luckily, the market offers a wide range of restraints for children in terms of price, style and features too. For example, you can turn around to face forward certain models of rear-facing restraints, when the child becomes older.
- Rear-facing child seat/ restraint . This type of child restraint or a seat is designed for babies and young children up to 2 years old. Rear-facing should not be put in the front seat. It is recommended to keep children in rear- facing seat as long as possible to ensure maximum protection. When children become big enough for restraint’s height or weight limit. Detailed instructions with pictures are usually indicated in the manual that goes together with the seat. You can also check the label of the seat – it might contain info too.
Pay attention to seats for infants, which usually are fixed to the base attached to the vehicle. It is important to make sure that the seat and the base are connected well to eliminate any damage to the child.
- Forward-facing child seat/ restraint . Rear-facing child seat is replaced with forward-facing seat when child reaches 2 years old. Ideally, it can be used until the age of 7 years old. These type of seats are used with special seat’s harness and hold children up to 40 pounds. Pay attention that the seats might have different weight limits with maximum weight up to 80 pounds. In order to fix the child you need to route the harness through the slots above child’s shoulders. For proper fixation and protection make sure that the harness is snugged and the chest clip is placed at chest or armpit level.
- Booster seat . If a child is too big for child restraints, he or she is put into, so-called, booster seat. Booster seat provides good protection until the child reaches the weight and height parameters to use child safety belt. The shoulder belt in booster seat should be placed crossing the chest and out across the shoulder near the child’s neck. The child should be sitting straight and put knees at the edge of the seat.
- Safety belt . Seat belts can be used once the child reaches certain height. If your kid can keep the back against the seat in the vehicle feet on the floor, you can start using seat belts without any hesitations. However, it does not mean that the kid is old enough and does not need help of adults. Safety belts must be used correctly to ensure protection. It should not be placed behind the child’s back or under the arm. The belt should be placed across the chest and out across the shoulder near the child’s neck.
LATCH: lower anchors and tethers for children
In some countries the government obliges manufacturers of vehicles to install systems called “a lower anchors and tethers for children” in vehicles. The system helps attach child restraints to the seat of the vehicle. To find out whether your vehicle has LATCH system, check vehicle manual. It is also possible to use safety belt to back up child seat. LATCH is usually used with forward-facing child restraints. The tether strap on the child restraints should be attached to a tether anchor in the vehicle and placed behind the seat. However, many vehicles are not equipped with LATCH system in the rear middle seat. If this is the case, you can use safety belt, and top tether, if you are using forward-facing restraints for your child.
Remember that safety seats and child restraints will reduce the injury and protect you child only when used properly. Once you have bought one of these safety tools, read the manual to be sure that you understand how to use it.
Child restraints and safety belt help to keep a child safe but in the event of a serious car accident they will not be enough. That is why it is important to buy crashworthy vehicles. These vehicles are usually more expensive as manufactured from different metals. They are bigger and heavier, and ensure more protection than average vehicles. Safety, especially child’s safety, is not something that should be neglected.