The holidays are here, and for many, that means it’s time to load up the car and make a trip to visit family and friends, just like nearly 42 million Americans did last Thanksgiving, according to AAA. Before you hit the road, make sure everyone is ready for the ride, especially those traveling in car seats. It just might save their life!
Buckle Up For Life, a national car seat safety program from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Toyota, advises parents to conduct what they call the “Inch Test” and the “Pinch Test.” Says Cora Ochanda, an injury prevention expert at CCHMC, “After you’ve buckled your child in, pinch the car seat strap near their shoulders. If you can pinch a wrinkle in the fabric, tighten the strap until it is snug. Then grab the car seat at the bottom where it is attached to the car and tug from side to side and front to back. If the seat moves more than an inch in either direction, tighten it.” Ochanda also recommends that parents remove their child’s winter coat before setting out, as a coat can prevent the harness from a proper fit. “It also could compress in a crash, compromising the seat’s ability to protect your child.” Make sure car seats are facing the right way – infants and toddlers must face back.
Parents should also make sure that all those fun holiday gifts are properly secured away, so that they don’t become potential projectiles in the case of an accident.
Lastly, if traveling by flight and car, stick with your own car seat rather than renting or borrowing one, even if it’s a pain to haul onto a plane. “When you rent a seat you don’t know important facts about its history that could affect its ability to protect your child (e.g., expiration date, crash history, etc.),” says Ochanda.
Get more tips and learn about Buckle Up For Life at buckleupforlife.org.