Staff at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital want to offer tips for parents and students to stay safe over Spring Break. With the weather turning warmer families will be getting outside, playing sports and traveling on vacations. Safe Kids Oklahoma has provided tips to ensure proper car seat, bicycle and All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) safety.
There are many things to consider when traveling with children to ensure their safety, having the appropriate sized car seat and proper installation are two of the biggest factors. Safe Kids Oklahoma reports in 2016, over 9,000 children were involved in automobile accidents, of those 574 were seriously injured. Here are tips on choosing the right car seat and proper installation.
Choose the Right Direction: Rear or Forward Facing:
For the best protection, keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat until 2 years old or more. You can find the exact height and weight limit on the side or back of your car seat. Kids who ride in rear-facing seats have the best protection for the head, neck and spine. It is especially important for rear-facing children to ride in a back seat away from the airbag.
When your children outgrow a rear-facing seat after age 2, move them to a forward-facing car seat. Keep the seat in the back and make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors (LATCH). Use the top tether at all times. Top tethers greatly reduce your car seat’s forward motion in a crash.
Kids can remain in forward-facing car seats until they’re 65 pounds or more depending on the car seat limits. Check labels to find the exact measurements for your seat. Discontinue use of lower attachment when your child reaches the limits set by your car seat and car manufacturers. Continue to use the top tether. You must read both manuals to know about those limits. Not to worry: Once your child meets the lower anchor weight limits, you will switch to a seat belt. Seat belts are designed and tested to protect all adults as well as children in car seats and booster seats.
Make Sure Your Car Seat is Installed Correctly:
Inch Test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good tug at the base where the seat belt goes through it. Can you move it more than an inch side-to-side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
Pinch Test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check your car seat manual). With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
“I would like to draw attention to seat belt use in older children and adolescents who are out of booster seats. Many teenagers and older children tend to slouch or lay down. This can put them at risk for life threatening injuries if crash were to occur. Seat belts need to sit just on top of thighs over pelvis, shoulder strap needs to fit between shoulder and neck and cross over center of chest,” said Tami Michael, advanced practice registered nurse, The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital.
Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly, if you are unsure about your car seat please visit https://www.safekids.org/coalition/safe-kids-oklahoma to find an inspection station nearest you and have your car seat checked. For these and other tips please visit https://www.safekids.org/ultimate-car-seat-guide/.
A great way to promote a healthy lifestyle for your entire family is riding a bicycle. City sidewalks and public bike trails offer riders a chance to get outdoors and exercise. Here are tips to ensure your whole family can stay safe and have fun.
Wear a Helmet:
Helmets are the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes.
Find the Right Helmet Fit:
Make sure your child has the right size helmet and wears it every time when riding, skating or scooting. Your children’s helmet should meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) standards. When it’s time to buy a new helmet, let your children pick out their own; they’ll be more likely to wear them for every ride.
Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward or side-to-side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly. Safe Kids recommends kids take the Helmet Fit Test.
EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
MOUTH check: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is against your skin.
Use Appropriate Helmets for Different Activities:
Children should always wear a helmet for all wheeled sports activities.
A properly- fitted bike helmet is just as effective when riding a scooter, roller- skating or in-line skating.
When skateboarding and long boarding, make sure your child wears a CPSC certified skateboarding helmet. The roper equipment and maintenance are important
Model and Teach Good Behavior:
You’d be surprised how much kids learn from watching you, so it’s important for parents to model proper behavior. Wear a helmet, even if you didn’t when you were a kid.
Teach your kids to make eye contact with drivers. Bikers should make sure drivers are paying attention and are going to stop before they cross the street.
Tell your kids to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible. Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stoplights. Be predictable when riding.
Stop and look left, right and left again before entering a street or crossing an intersection. Look back and yield to traffic coming from behind before turning left.
The numbers of ATV riders are increasing across the United States, as more options of vehicles are becoming available for riders. Regardless of the vehicle, there are some simple rules for all ages of riders to follow and help reduce injuries.
Based on statistics provided by ATV Safe Ride Oklahoma, since 2013 there have been 39 deaths related to ATV accidents in Oklahoma. There are many ways to reduce these fatalities and prevent injuries.
As created by the ATV Safety Institute, the golden rules of ATV safety are:
Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law. Another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
Ride an ATV that’s right for your age.
Supervise riders younger than 16; ATV’s are not toys.
Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
Take a hands-on ATV Rider Course and the free online E-Course. Visit ATVSafety.org or call 800.887.2887.
Stay safe and have fun this spring. For more safety tips please visit www.safekids.org.