This Children's Day, here's a reminder of how to keep your children safe in cars.
It’s the 14th of November, Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday and in honor of his love for children, we celebrate this day as Children’s Day. So while you rush to buy your kids, nephews, nieces and friends some chocolates, toys and other gifts do also consider keeping them happy and safe in cars. And no, for the love of safety common sense and the kids, this does not mean joyrides with their heads sticking out of windows and sunroofs. So here’s what you can do to keep the precious little ones safe in cars.
All kids must be seated securely, and in the back seat. It’s a far safer area in a crash and away from front airbags whose deployment force could actually injure or kill a child. If you absolutely must have children in the front, you should deactivate the airbags if your car has that facility. Also buckling yourself and your child together with the same seat belt is a lethal idea. In an impact or even rapid braking your body weight will bear down on your child’s chest.
Babies sit backwards;
Infants must always be belted up in a good quality rear facing seat. This is for all infants from birth till about 2 years; basically well into the age where they can hold their neck firmly on their own. In a crash with a rear facing seat, their neck and head will not snap forward. Do this religiously and as your kids grow there won’t be any tantrums getting them to sit in a child seat as they grow older.
Kids sit forwards;
Once they outgrow the rear facing seat and their necks are stronger kids can be belted into forward facing child seats. This would be from about 2 to 7-8 years old. Remember to lead by example and make sure everyone including adults are all belted in their own seats.
Boosters for the older ones;
Once your kids reach about 4 feet you can check to see if they can be safe in a booster seat. This is basically a seat that boosts their sitting height and enables them to sit safely at the right height for the cars' seat belts. This means they are strapped up with the belt running across their chest and not the head and neck.
Child seats can be secured to a car using the cars seat belts or via specially made universal mounting points known as ISO-FIX. The seats using the cars belts are secure but they can shift a bit, the ISO-FI X system uses firm mounts on the seat and the cars frame itself and is thus more secure and stable. If your car has ISO-FIX points you should invest in an ISO-FIX seat.
Doors and windows locked
Almost every car today will have a child lock for the door and power windows too. The door locks are simple tabs on the door frame (visible when you open the door) that prevent the child operating the door from inside. The window locks cut power to the motors making the operation of the glass panes impossible. Make sure you activate these on your car.
No unattended kids
Never, absolutely never leave kids unattended inside a car, and most certainly not in a locked one. Yes people do this and children have died of heat. We’ve have cases in India of kids left inside locked cars, presumably to keep them safe, but then forgotten about or not gotten back to on time. There have been a few deaths and many rescue attempts requiring passersby to break the car windows.
Look before you leave
The Govt of India will soon mandate rear view sensors or cameras primarily to prevent injuries to children. Yes, this happens all too often, so look around you carefully and move slowly when backing your vehicle. Also respect speed zones near schools and playgrounds. It can’t hurt to lose a few seconds of travel time.