This is a month of change in many households as families get back into the swing of school-year routines. Often that means more kids in cars, walking to and from school or riding the bus. For some children it means a return to a couple hours on their own after school until parents arrive home from work. For many adults it is a time to think about issues of safety for kids of all ages.
Fort Dodge Today turned to Safe Kids Worldwide for some tips on keeping children and infants safe. With a little knowledge and planning, many of the hazards kids fall victim to can be avoided. Here is what we found.
Top Tips For Staying Safe In Vehicles:
For the best possible protection, keep your infant in a rear-facing child safety seat in a back seat for as long as possible - up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. The "12 months and 20 pounds" rule that many parents cite when turning their child forward-facing in the car is actually the minimum size and age requirement for that change.
Keep a baby rear-facing in a convertible seat until he or she reaches the maximum height or weight allowed by the manufacturer. For many children that will be 30, 35 or even 40 pounds. Many kids will be over age 2 when they reach that weight. Rear-facing occupants are safest.
Use your baby's car seat rear-facing and semi-reclined to no more than 45 degrees, so the baby's head stays in contact with the seat and the baby's airway stays open. Read the car seat instructions.
ABOUT SAFE KIDS WORLDWIDE
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent
accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under. More than 450 Safe
Kids coalitions in 16 countries bring together health and safety experts, educators,
corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers.
In the United States, where more than 300 coalitions in all 50 states, the District of
Columbia and Puerto Rico are active, the national accidental injury death rate
among children ages 14 and under has declined more than 40 percent since the
inception of Safe Kids.
Safe Kids Worldwide (formerly the National SAFE KIDS Campaign) was founded in
1987 by Children's National Medical Center with support from Johnson & Johnson.
Make sure the buckled harness straps that keep your baby properly positioned and secured in the car seat fit snugly.
Loose harness straps don't provide maximum protection. Be sure the harness is tight enough that you cannot pinch webbing at the shoulder.
Position the shoulder straps through the slots at or below your baby's shoulders.
Adjust the chest clip to armpit level.
Use either the car's seat belt or LATCH system to lock the car seat into the car. Do not use both systems at the same time.
Your car seat should not move more than one inch side to side or front to back. Grab the car seat at the safety belt or LATCH path to test it.
Every car seat has an expiration date. Generally, it is six years from manufacture. Many have the expiration date stamped on the seat. Contact the manufacturer of your specific seat to find out what its expiration date is.
Never buy a used car seat if you do not know its full history. Never use a car seat that has been in a crash. Avoid seats sold at flea markets or yard sales or online.
Do not use any products that did not come from the manufacturer in or with the car seat. Car seat fabrics meet strict fire safety codes.
Add-on toys can injure your child in a crash.
Find the frontal airbags in your vehicle by checking the owner's manual. Never put a rear-facing car seat in front of an active frontal airbag. Children are always safest in a back seat.
Have your car seat checked by a currently certified child passenger safety technician to make sure it is properly installed.
Safety Around the House
Supervise your baby when he or she is eating and playing.
Avoid giving your baby small, hard or round foods.
Use a small parts tester to ensure toys are not so small they pose a choking hazard.
Learn CPR for infants and children.
Keep small objects such as buttons, beads, marbles, coins and tacks out of reach (and sight).
Don't let children under age 3 eat small, round or hard foods, including small pieces of hot dogs, hard candy, nuts, grapes and popcorn.
Buy only age-appropriate toys for your toddler. Use a small parts tester (or a toilet paper roll) to determine whether toys and objects in your home may present a choking hazard to young children.
Actively supervise babies at all times.
Remove pillows, blankets and stuffed animals from your baby's sleeping area.
Don't allow babies to sleep on couches, chairs, regular beds or other soft surfaces.
Don't allow babies to play with plastic bags or in and around poorly ventilated spaces.
Don't allow toddlers to sleep on couches, chairs, regular beds or other soft surfaces.
Never allow young children to play in poorly ventilated spaces such as laundry machines, car trunks and toy chests.
Keep cords and strings out of your child's reach.
Remove hood and neck drawstrings from your baby's clothing.
Don't allow babies to wear hanging jewelry, purses, scarves or loose clothing.
On older or used cribs, make sure all crib-railing slats are secure and no more than 2 and 3/8 inches apart (the size of a soda can).
Tie up all window blind and drapery cords out of reach.
Avoid dressing children in necklaces, purses, scarves, helmets or clothing with drawstrings.
Pedestrian Safety For School Children
Teach safe behaviors:
Look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Cross when the street is clear, and keep looking both ways while crossing. Walk, don't run.
Understand and obey traffic signals and signs.
Walk facing traffic, on sidewalks or paths, so that you can see oncoming cars. If there are no sidewalks, walk as far to the left as possible.
Practice safe behaviors:
Don't allow a child under age 10 to cross streets alone as he may not be able to fully appreciate the speed of cars on the road.
Require children to carry a flashlight at night, dawn and dusk. Add retroreflective materials to children's clothing so that a child can be seen by motorists, even in the dark.
Don't let kids play in driveways, unfenced yards, streets or parking lots. Drivers may not see or anticipate children playing.