Buckle Up: Top Tips for Car Safety

Discovery Place Kids Rockingham

Preparing to travel with kids takes work – detailed planning, weather analysis, food prep, packing-up what feels like half of your life in the trunk.

It gets easier. There will come a day when your children can open their own car doors and buckle their own seatbelts. But for now, here’s some info that we hope will make it a little safer traveling from A to B.

Buckle up, baby  

All kids younger than 8 must be in an age appropriate child safety seat. Here’s a link to NC state rules (it’s a surprisingly quick read). The biggest thing is to also consider your child’s weight – age 8 AND the child must weigh 80 pounds to move into a regular seatbelt.

While you can get fined if your child is not secured in the correct safety seat, obviously what is most important is the safety of your child.

The most common mistake police see when checking/inspecting child safety seats is that the seat is installed incorrectly or the child is sitting in it incorrectly. The seat belt or lower anchors must be tightened to where the seat or base has less than one inch of movement at the belt path.

When it comes to forward-facing seats, the rear tether must be secured and tightened. When the child is in the seat, the straps must be tightened to a point where you are unable to pinch the fabric of the belt, the chest clip must be across the middle of the chest, and the straps around the hips should be snug.

Local police and fire departments often host car seat safety checks at their stations – for free. You can swing by and have them check your car seat, and if this is your first rodeo they will even install it for you.

And remember, every time you buckle in a little one, check that the chest clip is tightened and the hips are snug. Every time.

Don’t be driven to distraction

We all know it only takes a second of distraction to change everything.

The text or call can wait and, believe it or not, so can changing the channel or replaying that Disney song for the 200th time. Driving safely is the most important task at hand – so if you need to pullover to pick-up the paci – do it.

Accidents happen

Traffic crashes range in severity, most are small bump-ups with no injuries. If you are involved in an accident with kids in the car, here are some important reminders:    

  • Stay calm. Children pick up on the emotions and actions of their parents and tend to emulate or react to them. Staying calm and reassuring the children can make the process go much smoother. 
  • Stay in the car. If there are no injuries, have the children stay in the car and move the vehicle out of the roadway to a safe area (if possible). Getting out of the vehicle can be very dangerous, so only do so when it is safe or if you really need to exit the vehicle (like if it is on fire). Don’t assume other drivers see you or can predict what you are doing.
  • Call 911.

Something to keep in mind following a crash: Many child safety seat manufacturers recommend or require child seats be replaced if they are involved in a collision. Check with your manufacturer to determine what constitutes the child seat needing replacement and work with your insurance company to get it replaced.

Be proactive by creating learning opportunities every time you pass an accident or pull over to let emergency vehicles go by. Reinforce to kids that emergency responders come to help.

A great way to get your kids comfortable and familiar with the roles emergency responders play is to visit the Museum where kids can get in a firetruck and role play all kinds of emergency situations. Letting kids explore everything from the Museum vehicles to the uniforms while having fun may help them stay calm in an emergency.

Rockingham Facade At Dusk
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  • Discovery Place Kids