The mistakes I am going to talk about today revolve around traveling with children in cars, vans, and pick-ups.
Mistake # 4 – No Car Seat, Wrong Car Seat, Bad Car Seat Install
A child, from the very first ride home from the hospital, needs to be in a car seat. No, let’s reword that: Every child needs to be in the correct car seat.
The correct car seat involves a number of factors.
The baby’s age – newborns to 2 year olds (or until they out-grow the manufacturer’s recommendations for that particular car seat) need to be in rear facing seats. If your baby is very little, you may need an even more specialized seat – more about that in a minute.
The baby’s size – One seat may be correct for a child that weighs, say 7 pounds, but not correct for one that ways 37 pounds.
How to find the correct car seat for your child:
This one is really a lot simpler than most folks make it. Indeed, there are many manufacturers and many models available. On any model you look at, even one at a garage sale or thrift store or ‘hand-me-down’, you will find a manufacturers label. (DO NOT USE ONE WITHOUT THAT LABEL!) Call the number on that label and ask them if the seat is right for your baby or small child. It may be too old, broken, missing parts, recalled, damaged in an accident, or just the wrong size. If you don’t know the history of that particular car seat, then it is not a ‘good buy’, regardless of cost.
TIP: You can call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888/327-4236 and find out is a particular car seat has been recalled.
Which way does it face and how do I install the thing?
Again, don’t make this any harder than it needs to be. Ask the manufacturer. Don’t be embarrassed – they help people way more confused and inept than you all the time. They can and will tell you. They will want to know the size and age of your child.
Mistake # 3 Leaving the empty car seat uncovered
This is the ‘forgotten one’. COVER THAT CAR SEAT WHEN IT IS NOT IN USE!!! Your baby, toddler, or small child’s skin is sensitive – if it’s hot to you, it will be scorching to them. “But it’s only 60 degrees outsize? That’s not too hot.” Let’s get the facts straight here – a closed car heats up to more than 104 degrees in just a few minutes when the temperature outside is only 57 degrees.
What do I cover it with?
How about one of those emergency outside aluminum foil ten blankets that reflect heat? You can find them online for less than 5 bucks. You might even get one for every seat including yours and to cover the steering wheel.
Mistake # 2 Forgetting a little one in the back seat
Leaving your baby, toddler, or small child in a parked car when you get out of it is deadly. If you go back to covering the car seat when not in use, then when you check your rear- view mirror and back seat and don’t see the cover, you will be reminded there’s a reason you don’t see the cover – your little one is back there!
Mistake # 1 Driving while using a cell phone
The biggest mistake I see that parents of children ages 0-5 make is to allow them to ride with anyone who uses their cell phone and drive at the same time. According to kidsandcars.org, an average of 37 babies, toddlers, and small children die of heat stroke every year in the US. Because they were left in a hot car, even for “just a few minutes”. That is tragic, no doubt about it.
BUT… there are over 1.6 million crashes due to cell phone usage while driving! (source: National Safety Council).
What is the solution?
Way simpler than anyone could imagine. When you put your baby, toddler, or small child securely in the backseat in the correctly installed and correct car seat, put your phone back there, too. No exceptions, every trip, every time, every driver. Then when you park, remove your little one, cover that seat, and then, and only then, retrieve your cell phone.
See, that was super simple, wasn’t it?