As spring creeps in and summer looms around the corner, you may start planning your family road trip. Preparing means more than stockpiling snacks and Disney soundtracks, however. It's important to ready your family and vehicle for the risks involved with driving with children on long trips. Road trips with kids are a great American pastime, but children also incur certain risks when in the car and outside it. As you prepare for your road trip vacation, keep in mind these five tips to keep you and your family safe and happy:
1. Limit the distractions in your car.
As a parent, multitasking is an everyday fact of life. Unfortunately, cars can be some of the most distracting (and dangerous) places for parents. On long road trip, children might need entertainment, food, or seat adjustments. Parents must manage children's wants and needs while navigating the roadway.
- Ask your children if they need anything to eat or drink before starting to drive.
- Make sure they are comfortable. Have blankets and pillows available to your passengers.
- Construct an entertainment plan. Whether it's a movie, songs, or just "eye spy", be sure to create expectations about the car ride for yourself and your kids!
2. Never leave a child in the car alone.
Leaving children alone in a locked car is not safe or secure. Children can inadvertently get stuck in between seats or open windows, resulting in injury.
Furthermore, cold and hot climates can create extreme temperature changes. These quick changes can be fatal for children left in the car.
3. Control the clutter.
When on a vacation, a good packing job can mean the difference between memories of a lifetime or a week that you'd rather forget. Make sure that you're not only prepared, but you're organized. Everything you need should be within arm's reach; that includes water, food, and entertainment. Try to make sure your children still have enough room to take a nap.
4. Give instructions and create a plan.
Children are naturally curious. Expect to hear "Are we there yet?" enough to drive you batty. But kids just want to know what's going on. Without information, kids are more likely to find out things by themselves, like exploring an area or playing with objects they aren't supposed to. To prevent a child from wandering off or injuring themselves, talk to your kids about where they are going and what they are going to do there. The car is a great environment to prepare your family for a fun and safe time.
For example, if you're going to a park, talk with them about the limits such as a playground. Tell them there will be other people there, but they need to stay with you. By setting a plan beforehand in the car, you can prevent incidents in the future.
5. Always hold your child's hand when around vehicles.
This is especially important in parking lots and driveways where large vehicles can create "blind zones" backing out of parking areas. SUVs and trucks can have up to 50' of blind zone depending on both the size of the car and the driver's height.
Accidents involving young children and vehicles when out of traffic are called "frontovers" or "backovers" depending on whether the car involved is backing out or driving forward. They account for over 60% of non-traffic automobile accidents. You can help protect your children by telling them to never enter a parking lot or driveway without permission.
Contributed by Alex Roitman from MySafetySign.com.