Child Safety Month: 6 Common Dangers

September 29, 2010

As the month comes to a close, we want to remind you that while September is Child Safety Month…everyday we must do our part to protect the future generations.

If recognition of Child Safety Month, we have developed a series of blogs to be published in September highlighting some important and fairly simple ways to increase your child’s safety and well being.    A special thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for allowing us to share some great info with you. 
We have identified six common dangers that even the most careful parents can overlook, and some tips on how to avoid them.  Fort more information on these topics, please visit the NHTSA website.

Trunk Entrapment
Children are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings. So, if you leave your kids unattended, in or near a vehicle, it won’t be long before they are playing in it. Hide and seek can turn deadly if they get trapped in the trunk, where temperatures can rise very quickly – resulting in heatstroke or asphyxiation.
Prevention Tips:  Teach children not to play in or around cars. Teach them that vehicle trunks are for cargo, not for playing.  Always supervise your children carefully when in and around vehicles.  Check the trunk right away if your child is missing.  Lock your car doors and trunk and be sure keys and remote entry devices are out of sight and reach of your kids.  Keep the rear fold-down seats closed/locked to keep your children from climbing into the trunk from inside your car.

Power Windows
Problem: Children can hurt themselves with power windows. Many kids are injured when a window closes on their finger, wrist, or hand. Some kids have been strangled by power windows.
Prevention Tips:  Never leave your children alone in a vehicle for any reason.  Teach your children not to play with window switches.  Teach your children not to stand on passenger door arm rests.  Properly restrain your children in car seats or seat belts to prevent them from accidentally activating power windows.  Look and make sure your kids hands, feet, and head, are clear of windows before raising the windows.  Never leave the key in the ignition or in the “on” or “accessory” position when you walk away from your car.  If available, activate the power window lock switch so that your children cannot play with the windows.

Vehicle Rollaway
Problem: With the key in the ignition, automatic transmissions may be shifted “out of park” even if the vehicle’s engine is off and the driver’s foot is not on the brake. If you leave the key in the ignition and turned to the accessory mode (to listen to the radio, open/close the windows, etc.), your vehicle’s automatic transmission may be shifted out of  “Park” if you or a child moves the gear selector.  f you leave a child alone in a motor vehicle, whether the engine running or not, it doesn’t take long for a child to unintentionally set your car in motion.
Prevention Tips:  Teach children not to play in or around cars.  Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles.  Keep vehicle locked when unattended.  Never leave keys in the car.  Engage your emergency brake every time you park.  Verify whether or not your vehicle has a Brake Transmission Safety Interlock (BTSI). Read the owner’s manual or check HERE to find BTSI-equipped vehicles.

Seatbelt Entanglement
Problem: A child within reach of a seat belt may become entangled if he or she pulls the seat belt all the way out and wraps the belt around the head, neck, or waist.  The majority of seat belts have a locking mechanism that is activated when the seat belt is pulled all the way out from the retractor. This feature is designed for child seat installation. In instances when the locking feature activates, the child may not be able to free him or herself.   This can happen if you do not properly restrain your child, for example, if you let the child lie down or sleep on the vehicle seat, instead of being properly restrained. Older children who are no longer in a child restraint system, can become entangled by pulling a seat belt all the way out of the retractor, or by playing with an unused seat belt.  If you used your vehicle’s Lower Anchors and Tether for Children (LATCH) system to install the car seat, your child may be able to reach an unused belt.
Prevention Tips:  Do not let children play in or around cars.  Never leave a child unattended in or around a vehicle.  Always ensure children are properly restrained.  Teach children that seat belts are not toys.  Be aware that some seat belts have a retractor that locks if pulled all the way out.  If a child has an unused seat belt within reach:  Buckle unused seat belts. Pull the seat belt out all the way to the end without yanking. Then, feed the excess webbing back into the retractor.     If a child seat is installed with LATCH, consider completing the steps above before you install the child seat. Always consult your child seat and vehicle owner’s manual for installation instructions.

Hypothermia & Heatstroke
Children die each year from heatstroke, after being left alone in a vehicle.  You live by your daily routine and it helps you get things done. Be extra careful, though, if you have to change any part of that routine. This is more likely to happen when you, or caregiver who helps with your children, forgets that a child is in the back seat. This can and does happen when you break a well-established routine.
Prevention Tips:  Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.  Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.  Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away.  If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it’s your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.  Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.  Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:  Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;  Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or  Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.  Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children’s reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.  If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Problem: Many children are killed or seriously injured in backover incidents. A backover incident typically occurs when a car coming out of a driveway or parking space backs over a child because the driver did not see him/her.
Prevention Tips:  Teach children not to play in or around cars.  Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles.  Always walk around your vehicle and check the area around it before backing up.  Be aware of small children-the smaller a child, the more likely it is you will not see them.  Teach children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in it or if the car is started.  Have children in the area stand to the side of the driveway or sidewalk so you can see them as you are backing out of a driveway or parking space.  Make sure to look behind you while backing up slowly in case a child dashes behind your vehicle unexpectedly.  Take extra care if you drive a large vehicle because they are likely to have bigger blind zones. Roll down your windows while backing out of your driveway or parking space so that you’ll be able to hear what is happening outside of your vehicle.  Teach your children to keep their toys and bikes out of the driveway.  Because kids can move unpredictably, you should actively check your mirrors while backing up.  Many cars are equipped with detection devices like backup cameras or warning sounds, but they cannot take the place of you actively walking around your car to make sure your children are safely out of the way. Do not rely solely on these devices to detect what’s behind your vehicle.

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