This week, many families will pack up and hit the road- some traveling from state to state- to enjoy time with their loved ones on Thanksgiving. When traveling with young children, it is important to keep vehicle safety in the forefront of your mind.
“An estimated 46% of car and booster seats are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness,” Skipper McCormick, APRN, said. “That is why this topic is so important, especially during the holiday season when so many families find themselves on the road.”
From 2003 to 2012, there have been 4,933 motor vehicle occupants killed in the state of Arkansas. According to the CDC, 72 percent of Arkansas drivers and front seat passengers wear seat belts. According to the CDC, approximately 3,031 lives could have been saved if all motor vehicle occupants were restrained on every trip in the United States in 2012.
When traveling this holiday season, keep the following tips offered by Skipper in mind:
If you are traveling over state lines, keep in mind that child safety seat laws regarding ages, weights and whether child can be forward or rear facing may be different or worded differently.
Never buckle your child in his or her car seat while wearing a bulky coat, wrapped in a blanket, or in a snowsuit. Buckle the child in securely and then cover with a blanket.
Parents who wear seat belts are more likely to have their children in car seats appropriately. Safe adults most often have safe kids.
Older children, teenagers, and adults must wear seat belts appropriately, with the shoulder strap across the shoulder (not under the arm) and the lap belt across the hip bones (not in the middle of the abdomen). Pregnant women must make sure that the seat belt goes across their hip bones as well and under their baby bump.
Car in good repair-
Make sure your vehicle has good tires and good windshield wipers.
Plan safe routes and allow plenty of time to reach your destination so that you do not feel rushed and make risky decisions.
Vehicles containing stressed, rushed, cranky drivers and passengers will likely congest the roadways. Be gracious. Be cautious.
This season can bring unpredictable weather. Consider fog, rain, or even frozen precipitation in your path. Check the weather for your destination, but also for the route between here and there.
Have a blanket, water, flashlight and ready-to-eat snacks like granola bars. Make sure there is enough for everyone and keep cell phones charged.
Never leave your child in the car alone while you hop into a convenience store to pay for gas or grab a snack.
Do not give foods that pose a choking risk to children in the backseat who may not have an adult's full attention.
You are most likely familiar with the child restraint guidelines in the state you live in, but what if you happen to travel through other states this holiday season? You may not be up to date on restraint laws for states that you do not frequent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a great resource motorists traveling from state to state. You can visit https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbelts/states.html
to get the facts per state.
NARMC wishes you and your family a happy and safe holiday season! Always remember… NARMC Emergency Department is open 24/7 for all of your health needs throughout the holidays.
*Photo of Skipper McCormick is courtesy of Vowell Publishing, Inc.