Keeping Our Kids Safe Around Cars

Keeping Our Kids Safe Around Cars
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You place your children’s safety at the top of your priority list. You shopped for the safest car when you started a family. You read up on car seats for kids and figured out which one worked best for you and your family. You even took your car and car seat to a seat-checking station to let an expert check and approve of your handiwork.

But did you know there are other dangers in and around your vehicle that could seriously harm or even kill your child?. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have identified six common dangers that even the most careful parents can overlook, and some tips on how to avoid them

Backovers

Problem: Many children are killed or seriously injured in backover incidents. A backover incident typically occurs when a car coming out of a driveway or parking space backs over a child because the driver did not see him/her.

Prevention Tips:

  • Teach children not to play in or around cars.
  • Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles.
  • Always walk around your vehicle and check the area around it before backing up.
  • Be aware of small children-the smaller a child, the more likely it is you will not see them.
  • Teach children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in it or if the car is started.
  • Have children in the area stand to the side of the driveway or sidewalk so you can see them as you are backing out of a driveway or parking space.
  • Make sure to look behind you while backing up slowly in case a child dashes behind your vehicle unexpectedly.
  • Take extra care if you drive a large vehicle because they are likely to have bigger blind zones. Roll down your windows while backing out of your driveway or parking space so that you’ll be able to hear what is happening outside of your vehicle.
  • Teach your children to keep their toys and bikes out of the driveway.
  • Because kids can move unpredictably, you should actively check your mirrors while backing up.
  • Many cars are equipped with detection devices like backup cameras or warning sounds, but they cannot take the place of you actively walking around your car to make sure your children are safely out of the way. Do not rely solely on these devices to detect what’s behind your vehicle.

 

Kids dying after being left alone in a hot vehicle.

Problem: Children die each year from heatstroke, after being left alone in a vehicle. You live by your daily routine and it helps you get things done. Be extra careful, though, if you have to change any part of that routine. This is more likely to happen when you, or caregiver who helps with your children, forgets that a child is in the back seat. This can and does happen when you break a well-established routine.
Disasters happen quickly At other times, you are on your way home and realize you need to stop in at the store and pick up one or two things for dinner. So, you leave your child unattended, thinking, “I’ll just run into the store for a minute.” Even cool temperatures in the 60s can cause the temperature to rise well above 110° Fahrenheit inside your car. The inside temperature can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes. Some children die in hot cars after climbing into an unlocked vehicle without an adults’ knowledge. Once in the vehicle, they may become confused by the door opening mechanism or trapped in the trunk, and unable to get out before heatstroke occurs.

Prevention Tips

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
  • Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
  • Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.
  • If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
  • Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
  • Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
    • Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
    • Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or
    • Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.
  • Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
  • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

What you need to know, now

  • Vehicles heat up quickly – even with a window rolled down two inches, if the outside temperature is in the low 80s° Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes.
  • Children’s bodies overheat easily, and infants and children under four years of age are among those at greatest risk for heat-related illness.
  • Children’s bodies absorb more heat on a hot day than an adult. Also, children are less able to lower their body heat by sweating. When a body cannot sweat enough, the body temperature rises rapidly.
  • In fact, when left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s body temperature may increase three to five times as fast an adult. High body temperatures can cause permanent injury or even death.

Dangers of extreme heat

  • Symptoms of heatstroke: Warning signs vary but may include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, being grouchy, or acting strangely.
  • If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

 

Power Windows

Problem: Children can hurt themselves with power windows. Many kids are injured when a window closes on their finger, wrist, or hand. Some kids have been strangled by power windows.

Prevention Tips:

  • Never leave your children alone in a vehicle for any reason.
  • Teach your children not to play with window switches.
  • Teach your children not to stand on passenger door arm rests.
  • Properly restrain your children in car seats or seat belts to prevent them from accidentally activating power windows.
  • Look and make sure your kids hands, feet, and head, are clear of windows before raising the windows.
  • Never leave the key in the ignition or in the “on” or “accessory” position when you walk away from your car.
  • If available, activate the power window lock switch so that your children cannot play with the windows.

What you need to know, now:

All new vehicles will have “pull to close” switches, which, as their name indicates, require you to pull up on them to close the window. Older vehicles may have window switches that a child can accidentally step or put weight on, easily causing a window to close.

Some vehicles have power windows that automatically reverse when an object (such as your child’s arm or neck) is in the path of a closing window. Check both the individual vehicle rating pages on www.safercar.gov and your owner’s manual to see if a vehicle is equipped with this safety technology.

 

Vehicle Rollaway

Problem: With the key in the ignition, automatic transmissions may be shifted “out of park” even if the vehicle’s engine is off and the driver’s foot is not on the brake. If you leave the key in the ignition and turned to the accessory mode (to listen to the radio, open/close the windows, etc.), your vehicle’s automatic transmission may be shifted out of “Park” if you or a child moves the gear selector.

If you leave a child alone in a motor vehicle, whether the engine running or not, it doesn’t take long for a child to unintentionally set your car in motion.

Prevention Tips:

  • Teach children not to play in or around cars.
  • Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles.
  • Keep vehicle locked when unattended.
  • Never leave keys in the car.
  • Engage your emergency brake every time you park.
  • Verify whether or not your vehicle has a Brake Transmission Safety Interlock (BTSI). Read the owner’s manual to find BTSI-equipped vehicles.

What you need to know, now:

When the vehicle is set in motion, children may become scared and jump out of the vehicle only to be injured or run over. They can also be hurt inside the vehicle, especially if they are unbelted and the vehicle is in motion. Sometimes, the vehicle may end up running over someone else.

Many vehicles today have a BTSI which is a safety technology intended to prevent children from accidentally putting a vehicle into gear.

All vehicles with automatic transmission with a Park position, manufactured for sale after September 1, 2010, must have BTSI.

 

Seat Belt Entanglement

Problem: A child within reach of a seat belt may become entangled if he or she pulls the seat belt all the way out and wraps the belt around the head, neck, or waist.

The majority of seat belts have a locking mechanism that is activated when the seat belt is pulled all the way out from the retractor. This feature is designed for child seat installation. In instances when the locking feature activates, the child may not be able to free him or herself.

This can happen if you do not properly restrain your child, for example, if you let the child lie down or sleep on the vehicle seat, instead of being properly restrained. Older children who are no longer in a child restraint system, can become entangled by pulling a seat belt all the way out of the retractor, or by playing with an unused seat belt.

If you used your vehicle’s Lower Anchors and Tether for Children (LATCH) system to install the car seat, your child may be able to reach an unused belt.

Prevention Tips:

  • Do not let children play in or around cars.
  • Never leave a child unattended in or around a vehicle.
  • Always ensure children are properly restrained.
  • Teach children that seat belts are not toys.
  • Be aware that some seat belts have a retractor that locks if pulled all the way out.
  • If a child has an unused seat belt within reach:
    • Buckle unused seat belts. Pull the seat belt out all the way to the end without yanking. Then, feed the excess webbing back into the retractor.
    • If a child seat is installed with LATCH, consider completing the steps above before you install the child seat. Always consult your child seat and vehicle owner’s manual for installation instructions.

 

Trunk Entrapment

Problem: Children are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings. So, if you leave your kids unattended, in or near a vehicle, it won’t be long before they are playing in it. Hide and seek can turn deadly if they get trapped in the trunk, where temperatures can rise very quickly – resulting in heatstroke or asphyxiation.

Prevention Tips:

  • Teach children not to play in or around cars. Teach them that vehicle trunks are for cargo, not for playing.
  • Always supervise your children carefully when in and around vehicles.
  • Check the trunk right away if your child is missing.
  • Lock your car doors and trunk and be sure keys and remote entry devices are out of sight and reach of your kids.
  • Keep the rear fold-down seats closed/locked to keep your children from climbing into the trunk from inside your car.

Retrofit your car:

As of September 1, 2001, auto manufacturers were required to equip all new vehicle trunks with a ‘glow in the dark’ trunk release inside the trunk compartment. Show your kids how to use the release in case of an emergency.

If your car is older and does not have the ‘glow in the dark’ trunk release, ask your automobile dealership about getting your vehicle retrofitted with a trunk release mechanism.

What you need to know, now:

  • Younger children are more sensitive to heat than older children and adults, and are at greater risk for heatstroke.
  • High temperature, humidity and poor ventilation add up to the extremely dangerous environment of a vehicle trunk of your vehicle.
  • Even in cooler temperatures, your vehicles can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. An outside temperature in the mid 60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The inside temperature of your car can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes.


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