How to keep your children safe during car journeys

Whenever we hear about the statistics of car-related children deaths or injuries, we ask ourselves if we are doing every possible thing to keep them out of harm’s way. Many of us have gone through articles, dedicated sites and recommendations from institutions of authority, but maybe we need a recap every now and then, just to keep it all fresh i our minds.

The first rule of driving with children is that they have to be well buckled down, be it by seat belt, or by tucking and buckling them into a properly-installed car seat. This will minimize their movements and help suppress some of the shock from an impact. However, a seat belt left in the hands of a toddler might turn into a halter if you’re not careful, so it is recommended to buckle and lock it away if you’re not using it.

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Secondly, children should always be seated in the back, as front seats are more open to damage, and air bags being a possible choking object once it’s triggered. This applies even if you’re using an extra safety measure such as a booster or the best convertible seat.

Another important recommendation comes from the horrifying number of deaths in infants caused by heat stroke: never leave your child in the vehicle unattended, even if the windows are open, or the sky is cloudy, since cars tend to overheat very quickly.

Leaving the child unattended may also give him/her ideas about personally driving the car, so one should always remember to take the keys out of the ignition and turn the ignition off.

Power-windows also constitute a real threat to the integrity and even life of children, according to the NHTSA. Close the windows and lock them to prevent your kid from sticking his fingers, hands or any other body parts through the window while it’s closing.

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If you’re the only adult in the car, keeping a close eye both on your kids and on the road at all times will be impossible. This is why you should remove all the objects that can become projectiles in case of an accident, as well as those a toddler can use to hurt himself when you’re not looking. Try to keep them occupied with little games, stories, or music so they have less time on their hands to think about tricks and larks that might unfold dramatically.

Why drop-side cribs have been banned from sale?

As of the middle of 2011, the manufacture of drop-side cribs has been prohibited in the US, as well as the sale, resale and distribution of these items. This was a decision made after a long series of infant and toddler deaths caused by this model of crib, which proved to maintain a deadly risk in spite of standard safety tests.

To understand how these tragedies occurred and why ( more details here), instead of just toughening the standards, the government decided an absolute ban, let us understand what a drop-side crib is and how it was managed.

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Photo from bestcribs2017.com

This infamous type of crib is different on only one aspect from a common crib: it has a side that is placed on two rails that make it come down and back up in order to give the parent more freedom of movement. The whole problem that got these cribs prohibited and recalled by the millions lies with this mobile side. The main argument that the government gave was that because of certain manufacture and usage practices, the cribs can for a gap between the mattress and the mobile part, where an infant can be trapped and suffocated.

So what are these practices that can lead to such terrible consequences? Just as in car seat related-accidents, some of the times it is about assembling the crib in a faulty way. As the mobile parts are placed upside-down, they create more wear than the crib is capable to handle and the rails turn loose with times. Other problems are related to the materials used in the construction of the cribs. Plastic and soft wood wear off and break easily and this leads to the same deadly gap, or to a partial disassembly of the crib, which opens the way to head and limbs injuries and so on.

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Many people raised their voices in defending the concept, saying that banning is less effective than improving the invention, and that some thought should be given to simply resolving the issues, instead of causing such a heavy financial loss for so many businesses. However, the force of the new established safety standards has reached further than just this product, making manufacturers everywhere reconsider their product features and set the safety of children at the top of their priority list.