Car accidents are a leading cause of injury or death among children. Toddlers are especially vulnerable in these events due to their small size and delicate nature. Hence, car safety for kids should always be a top priority while traveling with your little ones.
How to Keep Toddlers Safe on Road Trips
You can protect your kids while you’re on the road in many ways. This article offers essential tips to safeguard your precious passengers while traveling.
1. Prepare For Your Trip
Car safety begins before you leave your garage and includes installing the appropriate car seat and identifying your vehicle’s safety features.
Experts highly recommend that parents pay close attention to these pre-trip safety precautions. A proactive approach can help prevent unintentional injuries.
2. Choose The Right Car Seat
Pick a car seat appropriate for your child’s age, weight, and height. There are specific car seats for each stage in a child’s development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) prescribes a rear-facing car seat for toddlers since it provides the best protection for a child’s spine, neck, and head during a crash. They must use it until they reach the maximum allowable weight or height.
Regarding specific brands and models, it’s best to conduct your research. Opt for a car seat that meets the recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Look for car seats with a five-point harness system, energy-absorbing foam, and adjustable headrests.
Understand Car Seat Manufacturer’s Instructions
Once you have chosen the right car seat, you should carefully read the manual and follow them closely. Here are some pointers you need to follow:
- Install the car seat tightly and securely in the car’s backseat;
- Adjust the harness straps to fit snugly around your child;
- Position the chest clip at the armpit level;
- Ensure that the car seat is not installed near airbags, which can be very dangerous in an accident;
- Check your car seat regularly to ensure it is still properly installed and if the straps are adjusted correctly.
Replace the car seat immediately if you notice damage, such as straps fraying or buckles malfunctioning.
3. Check Car’s Safety Features
In addition to a car seat, there are several other safety features that parents should be aware of before traveling with their toddlers. These include:
Ensure that all passengers in the car are wearing seat belts properly. They should fit snugly across the chest and lap and not be placed behind the back or under the arm.
Seat Belt Reminders
Many modern cars notify and alert the driver if a passenger is not wearing their seat belt. These alerts can be handy for parents who have multiple children in the vehicle and may not be able to see if everyone is buckled up.
Be aware of the airbags’ location in your car, and ensure that children don’t sit directly in front of them. These can be dangerous for young children and infants and can cause severe injury or even death if they deploy.
Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, commonly known as the LATCH system, is a way to secure car seats without using seat belts. Most new cars and car seats utilize this technology, making installation easier and more secure.
Use it to keep your children even safer while on the road.
Adjust your child’s headrest to protect their head. Headrests should be at or above your kid’s head to provide adequate protection in a crash.
Anti-lock brakes can help prevent your car from skidding or sliding in wet or slippery conditions. This feature can help you prevent accidents.
Automatic Emergency Braking
This technology can perceive when a collision is imminent and apply the brakes automatically to prevent or mitigate a crash.
It’s perfect for parents driving in busy urban areas where accidents are more likely to
4. Prepare Emergency Supplies
Every parent can attest that life with toddlers can be unpredictable. Prepare an emergency kit to ensure they’re safe as you travel to, say, grandma’s house or your vacation place.
These supplies will ensure you’re ready to administer first aid in case of unexpected injuries and accidents.
First Aid Kit
A basic first-aid kit should include the following supplies:
- Adhesive bandages in various sizes
- Sterile gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wipes
- A pair of scissors
- A first aid manual
You can leave the first aid kit in the trunk of your car so you always have it with you wherever you go, even if it isn’t a long road trip. However, make sure to check for the expiration date of supplies before you kick-off for the trip.
You’ll need this to take a child’s temperature if they become sick or show signs of fever.
It would help if you kept a small supply of your child’s prescription medications and over-the-counter pain relievers, fever reducers, and antihistamines with you in case of an emergency.
Emergency Contact Information
Prepare a list of emergency contacts, including your child’s pediatrician and the local hospital, to quickly reach them in case your child needs urgent care.
Water & Snacks
Keep a water supply and healthy snacks, such as granola bars or crackers, in case of an unexpected delay or emergency.
Blankets & Extra Clothing
Store a blanket and extra clothing in the car in case of inclement weather or if your child becomes wet or soiled.
Hand Sanitizer & Wipes
These travel must-haves keep hands clean and prevent the spread of germs, particularly during cold and flu season.
Flashlight and extra batteries
A flashlight can be a valuable tool in an emergency, mainly if there is a power outage or you must check on your child during the night.
What to Do During the Trip with Kids
Now that you’re ready to hit the road, you’ll have to remember a few things to keep your child safe during the trip itself.
It’s best to consider a toddler’s overall temperament so there’ll be fewer tears and struggles while you’re on the road. Remember, what might work for your seven-year-old might not work for your precocious two-year-old.
1. Buckle Up
You must ensure that you secure your toddler in their car seat correctly. You and other passengers in the vehicle must wear your seat belts, too.
2. Ensure Your Child is Comfortable
Ensure that your child is comfortable and has appropriate clothing for the trip. It can help prevent discomfort, fussiness, and distraction while driving.
Prepare a variety of toys, books, and other age-appropriate items to keep your little ones entertained during the trip.
Keeping them busy can help prevent boredom and tantrums. It’s also less work for you since they’ll be so absorbed with their toys.
4. Take Frequent Stops
Taking frequent breaks during long trips is essential so you and your child can use the restroom, get fresh air, and do light stretching.
These short stops can help prevent fatigue and reduce the risk of accidents.
5. Avoid Leaving Children Alone in Car
Never, under any circumstance, leave young children in the car unattended, even for a short time. It can be hazardous, particularly during hot weather, resulting in serious injury or death.
What To Do In An Emergency
While some parents may not even want to imagine emergency scenarios involving their children, you must prepare for them to ensure their survival. Hence, it’s crucial to know what to do in case of a car accident when your toddlers are with you.
Here are some steps to ensure your child’s safety:
1. Check For Injuries
The priority is to check for any injuries to the child and the other passengers in the car. If anyone is injured, seek medical attention immediately.
2. Move To a Safe Location
If possible, move the vehicle to a safe location away from traffic. It can help prevent further accidents and reduce the risk of additional injuries.
3. Call For Help
Call 911 or the local emergency services for assistance. Provide details of the accident and your exact location. Then, follow any instructions the operator gives you.
4. Attend To Your Child
Check on your little one and provide any necessary first aid. It includes applying pressure to bleeding wounds, supporting suspected injuries, or cooling a burn with running water.
Calm your child with comforting words so they won’t panic. Let them know that help is on the way, and remember: never leave them alone.
5. Call Emergency Contacts
Contact the child’s pediatrician or your relatives to inform them of the accident and seek additional support if necessary.
6. Gather Information
Collect data from the other driver, including their name, contact information, and insurance details. Take photos of the damage to the vehicles and the scene of the accident, if possible.
7. Follow-up With Medical Care
Even if the child appears uninjured, it is vital to follow up with their doctor or a medical professional to ensure that there are no underlying injuries or symptoms that may develop later.
8. Keep Records
Include any medical treatment and expenses incurred in the records that you will keep. These documents can help with insurance claims and any legal proceedings that may follow.
Safety First, Always!
Going on a road trip with toddlers can be a fun yet challenging experience for parents. Ensuring their safety in the car can get overwhelming, especially for first-time parents. The safety tips outlined in this article can help reduce accident risks and injuries while in transit.
It’s always best to prioritize vehicular safety while you’re with your children. It protects your precious little ones and provides peace of mind for the whole family.
So before hitting the road, take the time to check your car’s safety features, properly secure your child in their car seat, and minimize distractions while driving.
Knowing the right steps to follow when an accident occurs is crucial. It can provide the mental clarity needed to overcome this unfortunate situation. Parents can ensure everyone involved has a happy and safe journey by taking the necessary precautions.
The little safety checks you do before each road trip can enormously benefit you if the unexpected happens.
MJ Fernandez is a corporate communications and publicity professional at Makati Medical Center, who works with doctors and media representatives to produce informative and creative materials about healthcare. When not writing and editing articles, he spends his time traveling and exploring places outside the city.