By Morgan Lord
Whether you’re off on a road trip or running errands on crowded city streets, keep your child safe by having the correct car seat in your vehicle, buying safe car seat accessories and keeping your attention focused on the road.
Having a car seat is the law—all 50 states require child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific criteria, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Using a car seat reduces infant death by 71 percent and toddler death by 54 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When selecting your car seat, you’ll notice a five-star, ease-of-use rating system by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); this means it meets federal safety standards and strict crash-performance standards.
Unlike your car seat, all of those handy car seat accessories are likely not governed by federal standards, so be sure to check their safety features and read the directions. Accessories range from helping the driver see the child, to shielding your little one from the sun, to keeping her entertained.
Here are some considerations to keep the entire precious cargo safe.
- No matter the kind of car seat, if it’s not installed correctly, it’s not going to do its job, which is to protect your child. According to NHTSA, three out of every four children in child safety seats are not properly secured. Read the instructions carefully. Or go to a car-seat inspection station (check locations on safercar.gov) to double check your work. The angle of the car seat is paramount. You can also opt for a leveler, which compensates for the slope of the vehicle seat.
- We know you always want to keep an eye on your child. But when you’re driving, the road is the most important thing to pay attention to. New moms are among the most distracted these days, according to the Distracted Driving blog. Rather than constantly swiveling your head, incorporate an extra mirror into your safe driving practices to provide a clear view of your child without sacrificing road safety.
GET MORE STATS ABOUT DISTRACTED DRIVING RISKS
- Dangerous UV rays and intense heat can penetrate even a tinted window. Mesh window shades can block the sun, but not your view. A child’s body feels heat three to fives times faster than adults’, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Heatstroke is the leading cause of noncrash, vehicle-related deaths for children. So, if it feels hot to you, imagine what the child feels.
- To provide support for an infant unable to hold his head up, improve comfort with an adjustable padded head support. Just be sure that the support is not so thick that it might accidentally push a newborn’s head forward, compromising the airway.
When your baby is happy and smiling, everything in life is better. This goes for your skills as a driver, too.