Car Safety Tips
Car Safety Tips for Kids of All Ages
- Always use a government-approved car seat. Not that you would, but just in case, don't even think about using a kitchen booster seat or a bouncy seat as a substitute—not only is it completely unsafe, it's illegal! Plus, if you took the bouncy seat out of the house, you'd have nothing to tether down junior while you tried (emphasis on tried) to shower.
- Never hold your child in your arms when the car is moving, no matter how unhappy he is about being buckled in. Yes, it's heartbreaking (and nerve-testing) to hear your kid screaming his head off because he's restrained, but breathe deep and know that it's what's best for him.
- If you're ever in an auto accident—even the most minor fender-bender—you need to replace your car seat. Car seats are designed to withstand the impact of only one car accident. That's also why it is recommended that you only use new car seats—you never know if that second-hand seat is accident-free.
- Pay attention to the expiration date given by your car seat manufacturer. Over time the plastic shell and other parts of the car seat can break down and make the car seat less effective in a crash.
- Follow the car seat installation instructions for your car's model year. If your car was made in 2003 or later, it is probably equipped with the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system—those nifty car seat hooks in the seat backs near the adult seat belts. If your car is older, then you'll have to secure your car seat using the regular seat belts, a locking clip (that H-shaped piece of metal that comes with your car seat) and/or a car seat anchor above your car's seat back.
- Get help if you're unsure about your car seat's proper installation. If you're worried that you or your partner have not installed the car seat correctly (or would like a thumbs up that you did!), contact your neighborhood fire or police station to see if they are trained to help. Many offer regular car seat check programs, where you can just drive in on a specific date and time to have yours checked ... and flirt with the cute men in uniform while you're there. They may also refer you to a program in your area that helps parents correctly install car seats.
Be sure to check out the car safety road rules for your kid's specific age:
Car Safety for Babies
Car Safety for Toddlers
Car Safety for Kids