the basics--children shouldn't sit in front of an air bag,
infants need to be in rear-facing child seats--take note
of these tips regarding kids and cars that you probably
seats and coats don't always mix.
Before you buckle your baby in a child safety seat during
the cold winter months, take off bulky snowsuits and coats.
The child seat harnesses won't work as effectively if there's
all that cushioning between the baby and the belts. Instead,
use blankets to keep your baby warm. (By the way, the same
goes for grownups and their winter wraps.)
rearview mirrors can be dangerous.
Watch out for mirrors sold to help you keep an eye on your
rear-facing infant. Many suction onto the back window or
otherwise attach to the back of the car. In a crashor
even if you just stop shortthe mirror can go flying
and hit your baby or other occupants in the head.
unlocked auto is a hazard waiting to happen.
Always keep your car locked, even if you live in the safest
of neighborhoods. During 2000, at least 32 deaths were attributed
to kids being left unattended in or around cars. And that's
not just from joyridersthis includes young children
who became locked in trunks. It happens because in many
vehicle models, children may be able to pop the trunk (from
inside or outside) when the car's unlocked, or access the
trunk via a pass-through in the backseat.
all safety belts save lives.
Beware of safety-belt adjusters, sold in stores, that are
designed to make adult safety belts fit kids. These devices
are not tested or regulated by the federal government and
may, in fact, decrease the effectiveness of a vehicle's
safety beltsespecially for very young children. General
Motors does offer a built-in belt adjuster that the company
tests with its belts, and the government says it's okay.
Otherwise, if your car's safety belts don't fit a child
under 80 pounds, buy a booster seat.
are rare instances when young kids are safest sitting up
While children younger than 13 are generally safest sitting
in the back seat of a vehicle, here is an exception: If
you drive an older model car that doesn't have a front passenger-side
air bag, does have a three-point safety belt in the front
passenger seat, and only has lap belts in back. In this
case, a child who can no longer fit in a front-facing child
safety seat but doesn't yet fit the vehicle's safety belts
properly on his own is best off sitting up front in a booster
seat, using the vehicle's lap-shoulder belt.
riding shotgun, it's best to be empty-handed.
Never allow a passenger sitting in the front seat of your
car to hold toys, games, or anything else that would come
between him and a deploying air bag. At least one child
has been seriously injured when the bag hit a toy in front
of his face.
AutoPro, Jayne O'Donnell, is a Washington, D.C.-based reporter
(and new mom!) whose automotive expertise and investigative
reporting skills have helped break some of the biggest auto-safety
stories of the past several years.
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