Safety Tips In and Around Cars
Every day, children are left unattended in or around vehicles – a danger most people greatly underestimate. These tips, developed by KidsAndCars.org, offer information and helpful reminders to keep children safe throughout the year. Injuries and accidents are both predictable AND preventable.
- NEVER leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
- Walk all the way around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
- Be extra cautious in parking lots for vehicles that are pulling out of spaces - they may not see you. Rear tail lights (white lights), the sound of an engine and exhaust coming from behind the vehicle can be your first signals that a vehicle is about to move.
- Teach children that “parked” cars might move and make sure they understand that a driver might not be able to see them, even if they can see the driver.
- Make sure children hold hands with an adult in parking lots at ALL times. If you have multiple children and not enough hands, create a hand-holding train or fasten the younger children into a stroller and make sure everyone stays together.
- If parking lots have sidewalks or walkways areas for pedestrians, use them.
- Know where your kids are at all times. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is actively supervising them before moving your vehicle.
- Consider installing cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors or a rearview video camera system. ALL vehicles can easily be retrofitted with this type of technology.
- Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle.
- Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway.
- Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can easily and clearly see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians when backing in and out. This same warning pertains to snow piles that can seriously compromise your visibility. Be careful not to add holiday decorations that can obstruct a driver’s view around sidewalks, driveways or parking lots.
- Sledding or other snow activities should be closely supervised and done far away from all vehicles, roadways, parking lots and driveways.
- Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway and always set the emergency brake.
- Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
- Make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked.
- Create reminders for yourself to help you get in the habit of always checking the back seat before leaving your vehicle. This is known as the “Look Before You Lock” program.
- Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes, periods of crisis or holidays.
- Don’t use your cell phone for anything while driving and avoid other distractions.
- Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.
Safe Toy Shopping Tips
It’s important to make sure that the toys you’re buying for the kids in your life will not only delight and entertain, but also be safe for them to use. These tips, developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offer guidance – from buying to playing and maintaining to storing toys – to keep your kids safe and happy.
When buying toys
- Choose toys with care. Keep in mind the child’s age, interests and skill level.
- Look for quality design and construction in all toys for all ages.
- Make sure that all directions or instructions are clear—to you and, when appropriate, to your child.
- Plastic wrappings on toys should be discarded at once before they become hazardous to young children.
- Be a label reader. Look for and heed age recommendations, such as “Not recommended for children under three.”
- Toys with small parts are not intended for children under three. This includes removable small eyes and noses on stuffed toys and dolls, and small, removable squeakers on squeeze toys.
- New toys intended for children under eight years of age should be free of sharp glass and metal edges. With use, however, older toys may break, exposing cutting edges.
- Look for other safety labels including: “Flame retardant/Flame resistant” on fabric products and “Washable/hygienic materials” on stuffed toys and dolls.
When maintaining toys
- Check all toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. A damaged or dangerous toy should be thrown away or repaired immediately.
- Teach older children to help keep their toys away from younger brothers and sisters.
- Edges on wooden toys that might have become sharp or surfaces covered with splinters should be sanded smooth.
- Examine all outdoor toys regularly for rust or weak parts that could become hazardous.
When storing toys
- Teach children to put their toys safely away on shelves or in a toy chest after playing to prevent trips and falls.
- Toy boxes, too, should be checked for safety. Use a toy chest that has a lid that will stay open in any position to which it is raised, and will not fall unexpectedly on a child. For extra safety, be sure there are ventilation holes for fresh air. Watch for sharp edges that could cut and hinges that could pinch or squeeze.
- See that toys used outdoors are stored after play—rain or dew can rust or damage a variety of toys and toy parts creating hazards.
Home Safety Tips
From the day you bring your baby home from the hospital until your little ones are moving all about, you want your home to be a safe place for them to explore, play and sleep. The tips below will help you to keep not only your kids, but your whole family, safe when you’re at home.
- Install working smoke detectors on each floor and in the basement.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors with audible alarms near sleeping areas.
- Check furnaces and fireplace flues with each seasonal change.
- Place fire extinguishers in all areas with open flames.
- Set the temperature of your hot water heater at 120 degrees or lower.Check with your management if you have no control.
- When cooking, keep handles on cookware turned inward.
- If you use a space heater, make sure it is unobstructed and not used in the bedroom or nursery.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Many plants are toxic. Check with local poison control for a list.
- Install child-proof latches on cabinets.
- Equip windows with stops to maintain small openings.
- No window opening should be wider than four inches.
- Make sure all rugs are slip proof.
- Do not leave small children unattended in a tub or near any body of water.
- Make sure someone in your home knows CPR.
- Choose toy chests carefully. Heavy lids can fall and injure or trap a child.
- Keep hair driers, curling irons and other electric appliances away from sinks, bathtubs and toilets.
- Use covers for electrical plugs less than three feet from the floor.
- Keep curling irons out of reach of small children.
- Keep power tools, yard tools and lawn mowers out of the reach of small children.
- Automatic garage doors should have a mechanism to automatically re-open when striking an obstruction.
- Do not use latex balloons around small children.
Reports by the Center for Disease Control show the leading causes of house fires are cooking, heating equipment and electrical problems. More than 60 percent of the reported home fires occur in homes without smoke alarms or with non-working smoke alarms. Fifty percent of fatal injuries caused by house fires are to preschool children and adults over 65.
- Check furnace and fireplace flues with each seasonal change. Clean chimneys at least once a year.
- Install working smoke detectors on each floor, outside all bedrooms and in the basement. Test smoke detectors frequently. Change the batteries every six months with the change in daylight savings time.
- Place fire extinguishers in all areas with open flames such as the kitchen and near the fireplace, as well as the basement and garage. Learn to operate them.
- Know the dangers of space heaters. They need to be unobstructed and should not be in a bedroom or nursery.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Teach children what to do in case of a fire; Stop, drop and roll if clothes are on fire. Have an escape plan, with two different routes, and rehearse with your children.
Sleep Safety Tips
One of the most important decisions you will make as a new parent is where and how you place your baby to sleep. If you follow these safe sleep rules, you will help protect your baby from SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) due to accidental suffocation or injury during sleep.
- Always place your baby to sleep on her back. Side and tummy positions are not safe.
- Use a crib that meets current safety standards. The mattress should be firm and fit snuggly in the crib. Cover the mattress with only a tight-fitting crib sheet. Portable cribs and play yard style cribs are also good choices.
- Cribs should have bars no more than 2-3/8 inches apart so that children cannot entrap their heads.
- Keep cribs and beds of small children away from windows.
- Do not put anything soft, loose or fluffy in your baby's sleep space. This includes pillows, blankets, comforters, bumper pads, stuffed animals or toys and other soft items.
- Use a wearable blanket or other type of sleeper instead of blankets to keep your baby warm and safe.
- Place your baby's separate, safe sleep space near your bed to help you protect her and make breastfeeding easier. This is called room sharing. Falling asleep with your baby in bed or on a couch or armchair is dangerous.
- Never place your baby to sleep on top of any soft surface. This includes adult beds, sofas, chairs, waterbeds, pillows, cushions, comforters and sheepskins.
- Make sure your baby doesn't get too warm during sleep. Use light sleep clothing and keep room temperature at what would be comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult.
- Offer your baby a pacifier every time you place her down to sleep. If you are breastfeeding, wait until nursing is well established before using a pacifier (usually around 1 month).
- Educate everyone who cares for your baby about these safe sleep rules!
Each year, on average more than 22,000 children ages 8 years old and younger, are treated for injuries related to household furniture instability or tip overs. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following safety tips to help prevent tip-over accidents:
- Anchor all furniture to the wall or floor, including low furniture.
- Use a wall mount to hang your TV if possible.
- Keep remote controls and other attractive items off the TV top and stand so kids won't be tempted to grab for them and risk knocking over the TV.
- Keep TV and cable cords out of reach of children.
- Make sure free-standing ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.
- Anchor washers, dryers, dishwashers and all other appliances.
- Always supervise children in rooms where these safety tips have not been followed.
Taking a few moments now to anchor and secure TVs, furniture and appliances can save your child from a tip-over tragedy. Be sure your child's grandparents and care givers follow these tips in their homes, too.
Car Seats and Boosters: Simple Steps for a Safer Ride
Most parents understand that car seats are a necessity to keep children safe on every ride. Getting maximum protection for your child means finding the correct seat for your child’s age and size, ensuring that it’s correctly installed.
We want parents to have the knowledge and tools necessary to protect children when riding in a vehicle. Car seats save lives. In passenger cars, child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the corresponding reductions are 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively.
Parents, please follow these three steps to protect your child when riding in the car:
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, choose a seat that fits in your vehicle, and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions (check height and weight limits) and read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.
- To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
Below is a helpful guide to make sure your child is in the right seat as they grow up.
Rear-Facing Car Seat
Birth – 12 MonthsYour child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats:
Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and All-in-One car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
1 – 3 Years
Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe.Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether.
Forward-Facing Car Seat
1 - 3 YearsKeep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether.
4 - 7 Years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
First, find the correct type of seat for your child’s age and size. To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible – that means as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. Second, immediately after buying a new car seat, register it with the manufacturer so that you’ll be notified if a safety recall should occur. This simple but critical step will help ensure that you will be notified if a defect is discovered with your car seat so it can be repaired and keep your child safe.
These steps will help keep your child safe on the road. Remember: until they are old enough to protect themselves it’s up to us to protect children. Safe travels.