Most of us with small children are keenly aware that everyday objects in our homes can be hazardous to babies and small children. We spend time and money baby-proofing our homes. We secure bookshelves to the walls, cover electrical outlets with plastic outlet covers, install gates at the top and bottom of stairways, replace or shorten venetian blind cords, and lock medicine cabinets, to name a few examples. We should be equally vigilant about child-proofing our vehicles.
The most important safety concern for children in vehicles is the car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants and toddlers up to the age of two ride in rear-facing car seats. Make sure the car seat is appropriate for the child’s age or weight, be sure to buckle the child into the seat correctly, and fasten the seat into the car properly. Visit http://www.seatcheck.org/ to find a technician who can inspect your child’s car seat and make sure it is installed correctly.
When child-proofing your car, keep an eye out for hazards you would look for at home. Keep your vehicle free from choking hazards. Make sure chemicals are out of the child’s reach.
Before backing out of your driveway, and before backing out of any parking space where children might be present, make sure no child is near the rear of your car. Back out slowly. Consider investing in a rear-view back up video camera so that you can see what is behind your vehicle when you put your car in reverse.
Getting into certain habits while transporting your child will help keep your child safe. First, always be certain that a child is not in the car when you leave it unattended. Tragically, 15 to 25 children in the United States die every year after being left in cars on hot summer days. Second, inspect your vehicle in the front and back before walking away from the vehicle. Put your briefcase or purse in the back seat so that you have to check the backseat before you leave the vehicle. Third, get others to help you double-check on your child. Ask your child care provider to call you if your child is absent from child care. Call your spouse or partner after dropping the child off at child care to let him or her know how drop off went.
Of course, to keep your children safe in the car, keep your eyes on the road. Do not attempt to feed a child, pick up toys, or resolve a conflict between siblings while driving. Give children plenty of things to keep them occupied while traveling. If a child needs attention, pull into a safe area, stop the car, and attend to the child.
These steps may seem simple or unnecessary, but following them will help you keep your children safe. And isn’t that what we all want? Remember the old saying: better safe than sorry.
 For more information, see “Childproofing Your Home – 12 Safety Devices to Protect Your Children” at www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/252.pdf
For more information, see Consumer Reports article “Guide to Childproofing and Safety ” at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/babies-kids/resource-center/guide-to-childproofing-and-safety/getting-to-know-your-car-seat/getting-to-know-your-car-seat.htm