Whether you’re a new parent or you’re revving up for your first road trip with the kids, we have a list of tips and suggestions to make them as comfortable and safe as possible in the car. It doesn’t matter if they’re in the car for two minutes or two hours – your child’s safety should be your first priority. Here are some tips on how to effectively child-proof your car.
Securely Install Car and Booster Seats
If you’ve got young children, make sure their car or booster seats are installed properly. For starters, the seat should be in the very middle seat of the car rather than next to either of the doors. This ensures that should you get into an accident, your child is as protected as possible (the seats on either side act as a buffer space). Here’s a full breakdown from the Government of Ontario on how to make sure your child’s car seat is put in the correctly and here is a breakdown of some of the best booster seats from Parents.com.
Consider Your Child’s Comfort
If you’ve got children that are too old for a booster seat but are still too small for the seatbelt to fit comfortably (the strap can irritate the upper body/neck area in some children), we suggest looking into a seatbelt strap cover. They come in a variety of shapes and patterns but all serve to make your child more comfortable and prevent the strap from causing distress.
If you’re worried about the sun getting in your child’s eyes, you can get a fabric sunshade that fastens easily to the window with suction cups (and while we’re on the subject of sun protection – don’t forget that your child still gets a full blast of UVA/UVB rays through the glass of your car window. Good sunscreen is a must on long drives.)
Keep Them Occupied (Safely)
Once you’ve got the kids buckled in and ready to go, make sure they have things to keep them occupied during the drive. Whether it’s colouring books, stuffed toys, a tablet, or a music player, kids should be able to keep themselves entertained without distracting the driver.
Make sure you’ve also got some snacks stocked up to prevent the ‘I’m hungry’ chorus of complaints when you’re in the middle of nowhere (if you’re worried about crumbs, you can put towels or some other easily washable fabric down on the seats first). Just be careful with bottles and other round object that can drop onto the floor and roll under your seat (if it rolls under the brake or gas pedal you won’t be able to stop or accelerate safely).
Do a Safety Sweep Before Leaving
Do a sweep of the car before driving off to make sure there’s nothing dangerous (or potentially dangerous) in the backseat that can harm your child. Items like scissors, nail clippers, chipped or broken bottles and any type of medication should be stored somewhere children absolutely cannot reach them (in the glove compartment is always a good option).
Engage Child Locks
Once you’re on the road, make sure that the rear child locks are engaged (this goes for doors and windows: just as much as you don’t want your kid accidentally opening the door while you’re speeding down the highway, you don’t want them sticking their arms, legs, or head out the window when there’s oncoming traffic).
Don’t leave your keys in the ignition if you’re not in the car, and most importantly – never leave a child by him or herself. Ever. Obviously, once a child reaches a certain age you can become more lenient, but please put your child’s safety before your own convenience.