Car safety tips
Children are precious cargo and it's important to protect them when hitting the road. Using a car seat is a standard rule for Jamaican motorists, but there are tons of other things parents need to keep in mind when transporting children.
Here are a few car safety tips from Safe Kids Worldwide, a global non-profit organisation dedicated to preventing childhood injury.
1. Choose the right direction. Keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible — usually until about two years old. You can find the exact height and weight limit on the side or back of your car seat. Kids who ride in rear-facing seats have the maximum protection for the head, neck and spine. It is especially important for rear-facing children to ride in a back seat away from the airbag. When your children outgrow a rear-facing seat around age two, move them to a forward-facing car seat. Keep the seat in the back and make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors. Use the top tether until your child weighs 40 pounds. When they have outgrown a car seat, switch to a booster seat.
2. Seat belts are made to protect very heavy adults as well as children who have outgrown a booster seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it's appropriate for your child's age, weight and height.
3. Be wary of toys. Toys can injure your child in a crash, so be extra careful to choose ones that are soft and will not hurt your child. A small, loose toy can be dangerous and injure your baby in a crash. Secure loose objects and toys to protect everyone in the car.
4. Be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too. Buckling up the right way on every ride is the single most important thing a family can do to stay safe in the car.
5. Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. While it may be tempting to dash out for a quick errand while your babies are sleeping peacefully in their car seats, the temperature inside your car can rise and cause heatstroke in the time it takes for you to run in and out of the store.
6. Make sure to lock your vehicle, including doors and trunk, when you're not using it. Keep keys and remotes out of children's sight and reach. Teach kids that trunks are for transporting cargo and are not safe places to play. Show older kids how to locate and use the emergency trunk release found in cars. Keep rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids from climbing into the trunk from inside your car.
7. We know you're often in a hurry, but before you drive away, take a few seconds to walk all the way around your parked car to check for children. Designate a safe spot for children to wait when nearby vehicles are about to move and make sure the drivers can see them. Accompany little kids when they get in and out of a vehicle. Hold their hands while walking near moving vehicles or in driveways and parking lots or on sidewalks.