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MoonDragon's Parenting Information
AUTOMOBILE SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR CHILDREN




Starting with a baby's very first journey in the car, whether this is to grandma's house for the home-birthed baby to see the family or home from a birth center/hospital birth, it is his parent's responsibility to ensure his safety when traveling. More children are injured in auto accidents than in any other type of accident, but you can protect your child by using some simple safety measures and by teaching some basic rules.






AIR BAGS & CHILDREN


When combined with safety belts, air bags can go a long way in protecting adults and older children from injury during a collision. These devices have saved lives and prevented many serious injuries. But infants and young children can be injured or even killed if they are riding in the front passenger seat when an air bag opens.

Air bags were designed with adults in mind: they need to open at up to 200 miles per hour in order to protect an average-sized, 165-pound male from injury. While this force is appropriate for adults and bigger kids, it can be dangerous for smaller passengers, possibly resulting in head and neck injuries. Protect your child from air bag injury by following these rules:

  • All children under age 12 should always ride in the back seat with their seat belts buckled.
  • Air bags present a serious danger for babies riding in rear-facing car seats. Never place a rear-facing infant seat in the front seat of a car that is equipped with a passenger-side air bag. The safest place is in the center of the back seat (where there are fewer obstructions in the event of a crash), followed by the back seat behind the passenger seat.
  • A convertible car seat or booster seat should be placed in either the center of the back seat or behind the passenger seat. If you have no choice and must place a car seat in the front, push the seat as far back as it will go.
  • A law passed in 1995 allows car manufacturers to install a manual cut-off switch which temporarily disables a passenger-side air bag. As recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if you must place a car seat in the front seat (that is, if your car is a two-seater or if the car seat will not fit in the backseat) and your car has this cut-off switch, disable the air bag for the duration of the ride. Be sure to switch the air bag back on when you remove the car seat.







  • CHILD SAFETY SEATS


    Using a child safety seat (car seat) is the best protection you can give your child when traveling by car. All 50 states in the United States require that an infant or small child be restrain--and with good reason. Child safety seats can reduce the risk of potentially fatal injury by 69 percent for babies under one year old and by 47 percent for one- to four-year-old children.

    When choosing any car seat, there are important general guidelines to follow in order to ensure your child's safety. In addition, the seat must be appropriate for your child's weight, size, and age. You must know how to install a car safety seat properly and how to harness in your child for the ride.





    GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR CHOOSING A CHILD SAFETY SEAT

  • Choose a seat whose label states that it meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.
  • Accept a used seat with caution. Never accept a seat manufactured before 1981 or one that was in a crash. If you have any doubts about the seat's history, or if it is cracked or shows signs of wear and tear, do not use it.
  • If you choose to accept a used seat, call the manufacturer to find out if the seat was ever recalled. Recalls happen occasionally, and the manufacturer may be able to provide you with a replacement part or new model.
  • Choose a seat that is upholstered in fabric. Vinyl should be avoided, since it can get uncomfortably sticky - or even dangerously hot - in warm weather.







  • INFANT-ONLY CAR SEATS
    (Newborn To Approximately 12 Months)

    Infant-only seats are designed to protect babies from birth until they reach 16 to 22 pounds, or approximately one year of age (the weight recommendation varies depending on the manufacturer and model). Infant-only seats often fit a newborn baby best and can be the optimal choice if you have the resources to buy another seat when your child grows larger. Many infant-only safety seats are also very convenient, since they are designed to double as carriers, chairs, or rockers when not used in the car. Many models detach right from the base, allowing you to leave the base installed in the car. Infant-only seats always face toward the rear.

    A baby who weighs 20 pounds but has not yet reached one year of age should still ride in a rear-facing seat, because his neck is not strong enough to support his head in the event of a crash. This may mean switching to an infant seat designed for larger babies, or a convertible seat for infants and toddlers.

    HOW AND WHERE TO INSTALL AN INFANT-ONLY CAR SEAT

  • An infant-only car seat should be placed in the center of the back seat, and must be facing toward the rear. If it is impossible to install the seat in the center, install it behind the passenger-side seat.
  • Read the owner's manual for your car to find out how to use your car's seat belts with a child safety seat.
  • Read the entire child safety seat manual.
  • Use your knee to push down on the seat as you tighten the car's lap belt through the safety slots. Pull up on the seat and push it from side to side, forward, and backward. The safety seat should not move. If the seat wiggles or moves, the belt needs to be tighter.
  • Some seat belts may require a special locking clip, which is designed specifically to keep the belt from loosening. Locking clips are available from some car dealerships and auto supply stores.
  • Be sure to check the tightness of the safety seat before each use.


  • HOW TO HARNESS YOUR INFANT

  • Read the entire child safety seat manual.
  • Infant-only seats are usually designed with two shoulder straps that form a "V" shape when buckled between the legs. Many models have a plastic or metal clip that holds the shoulder straps together cut away from the baby's neck. Move the clip so it is level with your baby's armpits.
  • All straps should fit snugly, especially over the shoulder and thigh areas. Straps should always lie flat, never twisted.
  • Dress your baby in clothes that keep his legs free. This will allow you to buckle the latch properly between his legs. If it is cold outside, harness your baby first and then cover him with a blanket. Never buckle a blanket under the seat straps.
  • If your baby slouches to one side or the other in the seat (common among newborns), place rolled-up cloth diapers on each side of his shoulders and between the crotch strap. You can also use padded supports specially designed for car seats. Never place any kind of padding or blanket under your baby - this can affect the straps' ability to restrain him.
  • If your baby's head flops forward (also common among newborns), roll up a small towel and wedge it under the front edge of the safety seat. This will level the seat or tilt it back slightly to offer your baby greater comfort.







  • CONVERTIBLE CAR SEATS
    (Newborn To 48 Months)

    Convertible seats are designed to protect children from birth up to 48 months (or 40 pounds) by converting to accommodate your growing child. Convertible seats are the only type of seats that are placed in different positions depending on your child's age: they face toward the rear when holding an infant and forward when the baby reaches a certain age or weight.

    Convertible seats are heavy and not very portable. Yet these types of seats can be economical, since it may not be necessary to buy a separate infant-only seat. Unfortunately, convertible seats can compromise the safety of very small babies and newborns, especially the models with shields, which can hide the baby's face or make harness adjustments difficult. You may want to opt for an infant-only seat in the beginning. If you decide to use a convertible seat for a newborn, choose one with a five-point harness system, not one that uses an overhead or T-shield.

    HOW & WHERE TO INSTALL A CONVERTIBLE SAFETY CAR SEAT

  • If an infant from birth to 20 months old is sitting in the seat, it should be placed in the center of the back seat and must be facing toward the rear. If it is impossible to install the seat in the center, install it behind the passenger-side seat.
  • After your child has reached 20 pounds or one year old, the seat should be turned to face forward. (Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for when to turn the seat.)
  • Read the owner's manual for your car to find out how to use your car's seat belts with a child safety seat.
  • Read the entire child safety seat manual.
  • Use your knee to push down on the seat as you tighten the car's lap belt through the safety slots. Pull up on the seat and push it from side to side, forward, and backward. The safety seat should not move. If the seat wiggles or moves, the belt needs to be tighter.
  • Some seat belts may require a special locking clip, which is designed specifically to keep the belt from loosening. Locking clips are available from some car dealerships and auto supply stores.
  • Be sure to check the tightness of the safety seat before each use.


  • HOW TO HARNESS YOUR CHILD

    Infant - (Newborn To Approximately 20 Months)

  • Read the entire child safety seat manual.
  • Shoulder straps should be threaded through the lowest harness slots to best protect your baby.
  • Convertible seats usually have one of three harness options: the five-point harness, the overhead shield, and the T-shield. The five-point harness offers the best protection of the three for infants because it can tighten to fit snugly and cannot obstruct a baby's head - both of the other harness options can hide a baby's face and are not recommended for infants under 20 months old.
  • All straps should fit snugly, especially over the shoulder and thigh areas. Straps should always lie flat, never twisted.
  • Dress your baby in clothes that keep his legs free. This will allow you to buckle the latch properly between his legs. If it is cold outside, harness your baby first and then cover him with a blanket. Never buckle a blanket under the seat straps.
  • If your baby slouches in the seat (common among newborns), place rolled-up cloth diapers on each side of his shoulders and between the crotch strap. You can also use padded supports specially designed for car seats. Never place any kind of padding or blanket underyour baby - this can affect the straps' ability to restrain him.
  • If your baby's head flops forward (also common among newborns), roll up a small towel and wedge it under the front edge of the safety seat. This will level the seat or tilt it back slightly and offer your baby greater comfort.


  • Toddler - (Approximately 21 to 48 months)

  • Read the entire child safety seat manual.
  • Shoulder straps should be threaded through the top harness slots of the seat to accommodate your child's new height.
  • Convertible seats usually have one of three harness options: the five-point harness, the T-shield, and the overhead shield. If a child's head and neck clear the top of a T-shield or overhead shield, all of these harness styles are safe. But for the best protection from head injury, the five-point harness is recommended.
  • All straps should fit snugly, especially over the shoulder and thigh areas. Straps should always lie flat, never twisted.
  • Dress your child in clothes that keep his legs free. This will allow you to buckle the latch properly between his legs. If it is cold outside, harness your child first and then cover him with a blanket. Never buckle a blanket under the seat straps.
  • Be sure to readjust harness straps as your toddler grows. Adjust straps for different seasons and changes in clothing (a puffy winter coat, for example).





  • booster seat


    BOOSTER SEATS
    (4 to 8 Years)

    Booster seats are designed for children who have outgrown convertible safety seats but are still too small to be protected by seat belts. They function by raising a child up so the vehicle's seat belts can be used properly. Booster seats are recommended for children who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds.

    Booster seats come with or without shields and harnesses. For smaller children who may need to be kept in their seats, a shield or harness can be a good option. But when an older child rides in the car, it's safest to use a booster seat without a shield and rely on the car's own lap and shoulder belts to restrain your child. If your car does not have shoulder belts in the back seat, you must use a model with a shield, regardless of the child's age.

    HOW & WHERE TO INSTALL A BOOSTER SEAT

  • Booster seats should be installed facing forward in the center of the back seat. If the center only has a lap belt but no shoulder belt, install the booster seat behind the passenger-side seat.
  • Read the owner's manual for your car to find out how to use your car's seat belts with a child safety seat.
  • Read the entire booster seat manual.
  • Some seat belts may require a special locking clip, which is designed specifically to keep the belt from loosening. Locking clips are available from some car dealerships and auto supply stores.
  • Be sure to check the tightness of the safety seat before each use.


  • HOW TO SEAT BELT YOUR CHILD

  • Read the entire booster seat manual.
  • Make sure the lap belt is low and tight across your child's hips.
  • The shoulder belt should lay flat and snug across his shoulder and stay clear of his neck or face.
  • Shoulder and lap belts should always lie flat, never twisted.
  • Children this age can begin to understand the importance of buckling up and may want to buckle themselves in. Be sure to check their seat belts and offer praise when they voluntarily put on their belts.


  • MoonDragon's Parenting Information: Car Seat Crying





    RULES FOR THE CAR & SCHOOL BUS


    Most children spend time in a car or on a school bus every day. School-age children can be taught simple rules for the car and school bus that will ensure their safety and provide the groundwork for a lifetime of safe, responsible travel.

    Be sure to explain to your child that these rules must be followed every time, no matter who is driving or how short the ride may be.




    RULES FOR THE CAR

  • Wear your seat belt from beginning to end. A seat belt must be worn during every car trip. It should be fastened before the car is even in motion, and should be left on until the end of the trip.
  • Use all seat belts. Most cars have lap and shoulder belts that buckle as a unit, but some have two separate belts, one lap and one shoulder. Some have a lap belt only. Teach your child to look for and secure every belt.
  • Never share seat belts. It may seem like fun, but two kids should never buckle up as a pair.
  • Sit in the back seat. Kids younger than age 12 should always ride in the back seat. This protects them from possible injury when a passenger-side air bag deploys. Explain that air bags could seriously hurt a small child because they are designed to protect a person with a much bigger body.
  • Play it cool. Kids should understand the importance of staying calm and low-key in the back seat. If they are jumping around or yelling, it can distract the driver and put all the passengers at risk.
  • Follow the rules in every car. Kids need to follow the rules if they are in a friend's or relative's car, even if other passengers do not follow the rules. If your child is asked to sit in the front seat of someone else's car, she should politely decline the offer and tell the driver that she would prefer to sit in the back seat.




  • RULES FOR THE BUS

  • Wait for the bus away from the street. Kids should get in a line that starts about six feet from the curb and goes away from the street rather than down the side.
  • Wait for the OK. Children must wait until the bus driver opens the door and says that it's OK to step on. They should not step into the road even a moment sooner.
  • Be careful getting on the bus. This is important for older kids who may carry book bags and backpacks that can get caught in a door or around a seat.
  • Wear seat belts if possible. Some school buses are outfitted with seat belts. They should be buckled before the bus leaves and left on until the bus arrives at its destination.
  • Play it cool. Make sure kids understand the importance of staying in their seats while the bus is moving. Running or climbing around the bus can distract the driver and be dangerous to other kids.
  • Be careful getting off the bus. When exiting the bus, kids should hold onto the handrail and step down slowly.
  • Stay in front. When children get off the bus, they must walk in front of it, never behind it. When they walk in front of the bus, they should walk on the sidewalk next to the bus for at least ten feet, make sure the bus driver acknowledges them, and then cross the street.
  • Do not disappear. If a child drops something as she is crossing in front of a bus, she should never bend over to pick it up. This makes her invisible to the driver. Instead, she should tell the bus driver that she dropped something.





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