Are you aware of the hidden dangers for children around automobiles? There are plenty of things that seem harmless enough until the unthinkable happens. It’s important to not only be aware of automobile dangers yourself, but also so you can teach children. The number one thing to teach your child is that an automobile is a heavy, powerful machine that can cause harm and requires training to use properly. They should not play in, on, or around cars, or with any part of the car, whether the car is in motion or parked in a driveway.
We have reported how children can get hurt playing with automatic windows, but who would think seat belts are dangerous? There have been several news stories recently about children in the three- to seven-year-old age range playing with the seatbelt and getting it stuck around their necks, choking and unable to free themselves. One mother had to use scissors to cut her child out of the seatbelt. Children should be taught to never play with seat belts, window buttons, or door handles. Doors should be kept locked while driving, with child locks activated if available. Small children should remain seated with belts buckled until the car is parked and turned off, and the driver says it’s ok to unbuckle. They should also know not to exit the car until an adult says it’s safe. Remind them often about the dangers of running through a parking lot. Even when your car is parked in your driveway, it should remain locked so children cannot access it. Some children think the trunk is a great place for hide-and-seek, but this is dangerous because they run the risk of becoming trapped and suffocating or freezing/overheating before anyone finds them. Most cars now have a safety release for escaping from the trunk, but you can’t assume that a child will be able to react positively in an emergency.
You should never leave a child alone in a car, no matter how quick you think you’ll be. Children can overheat in as little as 15 minutes, even during mild temperatures. Heat stroke can also happen in winter, when you have the heater running and your children are bundled up against the cold. Small children in a five-point harness system (infants and toddlers) should not wear heavy coats in the car. It requires loosening the harness to make room for child and coat, but these harnesses do not tighten up when in an accident like the regular seatbelt does. Instead, the material of a heavy winter coat may compress and allow your child to fall out of the harness or be injured by whiplash. Put your child in a thin sweatshirt and just have a heavier jacket on hand for once you’ve exited the car. You could also keep a small blanket in the car to put over their laps once they’re strapped in. http://www.kidsandcars.org/ is a great website to stay up to date on dangers and advancements in safety.