Catherine Hiles
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Baby Safety Month: How to Keep Your Child Safe on the Road

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No matter how safe a driver you are, there’s always the chance that someone will be texting while driving or not paying attention to a red light and run right into you. Thankfully, most cars are equipped with enough airbags to smother an elephant, as well as stronger frames designed to keep you safe in case of an accident. And these days, cars often come with advanced safety features that use cameras and emergency braking to help diminish the seriousness of a crash.

Advanced Safety Features: Learn about the Chevy Silverado’s camera technology

If you have an child, it’s important to ensure that they are safe and sound in the car before you hit the gas. Read on to find out how to keep your baby safe on the road.

Buy a car seat (and install it properly)

It’s one thing to buy a car seat, but a whole other ballgame to make sure it’s correctly fitted. According to the NHTSA, 46 percent of child car seats are installed incorrectly. If you’ve already installed yours, check it again. Either way, learn how to install your car seat properly, and check it multiple times before entrusting your child’s life to it.

If you want help making sure you installed the seat correctly, you can find a local Child Passenger Safety Technician on the website.

Never leave your child in a hot car

It sounds like a no-brainer, but when you’re a frazzled parent running on three hours’ sleep (if you’re lucky), even the most obvious things can slip past your radar. With heatstroke being a leading cause of death in children, it’s vitally important to ensure your child is never left alone in a hot car — even with the windows open.

And sun isn’t the only factor that can heat up your car quickly. Even on a cloudy day, your child can develop heatstroke in the car quickly. Always check your back seats before leaving your car even if you’re sure your child isn’t with you. If you see a child left in a car unattended, call 911 and get the child out of the car as soon as possible. If the child is responsive, stay with them until help arrives. If unresponsive, spray the child with cool water to help lower their temperature. Never treat heatstroke with an ice bath.

These days, many car manufacturers offer rear seat reminder systems to help you remember to check the back seat for your child, or even a pet, before walking away from your car.

Make the most of safety features

If your car has automatic door locks, use them. Push-down/pull-up window switches will minimize accidental window closures, which can happen to the best of us and unintentionally hurt our kids. Auto-pinch/auto-reverse windows are designed to sense if an object (like an arm) is in the way of its closing, and will reverse direction if necessary. Interior trunk release allows people to free themselves from the trunk if accidentally locked inside. Check which features come with your vehicle, and use them whenever you can.

Teach your child about car safety

When your child is old enough, teach them all about how to stay safe on the road. Your child needs to know the importance of remaining seated and secured while you’re on the road. They also need to understand the importance of staying calm and quiet in the car so as not to disturb you while you’re driving. Yelling or arguing kids in the backseat can easily lead to a distracted parent driver, which increases the likelihood of an accident.

Try to make it fun for the child, as they’re more likely to retain information relayed to them via a game or activity. Or, if your child is old enough, explain the consequences of what could happen if they don’t stay calm in the car.

No safety method is 100 percent foolproof, but by taking extra precautions in the car, you can help make sure your child is as safe as they can be on the road.