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Travel Injury Prevention Tips For Children
Travel injuries are the leading cause of death in children and young adults. This is closely followed by drowning incidents.
Every parent wants to see their kids grow and achieve their dreams. It’s saddening to witness the injury or death of a young one, knowing that you could have done something to prevent it.
The good news is that you can prevent travel injuries in children by modifying your environment and engaging in safety practices.
Whether you are taking a road trip across the country, visiting the beach for an afternoon, or travelling by air across the globe, these tips will minimise the risks and ensure relatively safe trips.
How can we prevent travel injuries in children?
1. Drive safely and responsibly
If you’re traveling by road and you’re the driver, the lives of your kids are in your hands. This is not the time to have a lead foot, engage in road rage, or talk on the phone.
According to the United States Department of Transport, approximately one-third of car motor vehicles fatalities are caused by speeding. An increasing number of accidents are caused by distracted driving. The distraction can be from texting, talking on the phone, eating, drinking, among other activities.
Personal injuries are more and likely worse in vehicle accidents at high speeds. At top speed, you have less time to react to potential accidents. Your vehicle is also at a higher momentum and therefore, will create more impact. Think of the impact to say, children crossing the road, or perhaps another vehicle heading towards you.
Therefore, it’s important to adjust your speed depending on the condition of the road, traffic, and weather.
Additionally, when you’re speeding and you come to a sudden stop, you risk injuries to your children, especially if they are not properly buckled in.
Furthermore, this one goes without saying, but we shall say it anyway: do not drink and drive.
2. Ensure the kids are properly restrained
Safety belts are lifesavers during an accident. Always buckle up your kids whether you are traveling by air, road, or water.
Safety belts prevent you from being ejected from the vehicle during a crash.
It’s worth noting that an ejection is a serious event that predisposes your children to significant injuries.
However, seat belts are not enough for younger children due to their height, size, and weight. Therefore, you should consider child safety systems such as car and booster seats.
Child restraints can also prevent non-crash injuries caused by swerving and evasive maneuvers, sudden stop, among other things.
For infants and toddlers, use a rear-facing car seat. Experts recommend sitting children below 2 years rear-facing until they are big enough to fit the height and weight limit. Additionally, the rear-facing child seat should be placed at the back seat and not the passenger seat.
Incorrect use of child restraints can cause injuries to your young ones so make sure to consult experts where possible.
Children aged between 2-7 years can ride in a forward-facing car seat.
Those between 7 to 12 years old do not need a car seat but they are still not big enough to use a seat belt, which is designed for adults. Make sure they are properly harnessed in booster seats.
However, booster seats should be used with lap/shoulder seat belts. This is because children have a soft abdomen and tightening a seat belt around it can cause serious injuries.
When buying child restraints or safety seats, make sure you get the right ones. The best option is to buy them new. Regularly inspect them to ensure they are in the best condition for use. Do not use a car seat with cracks or missing parts as it will increase the risk of injuries.
Kids can start using normal seat belts once they hit 12 and above, and have attained the required height and weight standards. They should be tall enough for their knees to bend over the seat’s edge and the feet should rest flat on the vehicles’ floor.
Teach your children the proper use of seat belts and make sure they are always wearing them during travel.
It’s worth noting that children should always ride in the back seat until they are at least 12.
3. Keep an eye on your kids
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Traveling with children can be a daunting task. As they are easily bored, they may want to stand on their seats or move from one seat to another. As a result, they may end up unhooking their car seats or removing their seat belts during the journey.
You should always keep a sharp eye on the children to make sure they are all buckled up and upright. If you’re driving, adjust the mirrors to monitor them while still keeping an eye on the road. If not, bring someone along, who’s old enough to help you monitor the kids while you drive.
You should never allow the kids to move while the vehicle, train, boat, or airplane is in motion.
Additionally, adjust the car windows to a height they can’t reach so that they do not place their heads, hands, or other body parts outside.Carry some toys, books, games, and perhaps snacks, to keep them engaged.
Heat stroke is a major cause of injury to children while travelling. On average, 38 children die of heat stroke in the US annually with a record number of 53 fatalities in 2018 and 2019.
The temperatures inside your vehicle can rise up by 20 degrees Fahrenheit, in the first 10 minutes of stopping. Therefore, do not leave your children in the car, especially in summer, even for short errands.
Hot car deaths are the most preventable travel injury and there are several ways to prevent hot car injuries including;
- Keep the windows down when stationary or in traffic
- Use the AC to regulate temperatures inside the vehicle
- Do not leave your children unsupervised in the vehicle for any period of time
- Always check whether you have your children with you – 53% of all fatalities were caused by caregivers forgetting their children were with them.
4. Keep away all loose items
This can be a major challenge, especially when using public transport. However, you have a responsibility to keep your children safe. If you’re using your vehicle, keep away all loose items. If possible, place your bags and supplies in the trunk.
Loose items can cause injuries to children and even adults when a car is moving. Think of a bag falling on your child’s head from an overhead locker in a plane or bus. This could result in a serious head injury and possibly death.
Make sure the vehicle’s doors are well-locked before driving. For younger children, use a child lock. Doors opening when the vehicle is moving can result in your children being ejected out of the car.
The responsibility of preventing travel injuries for children does not lie with just the parents and caregivers, but on each one of us. Drive responsibly and ensure your young ones are properly and correctly buckled up on their seats. Additionally, keep an eagle eye on your kids and store away any loose items that can cause injury. Lastly, do not forget your kids in the car, as heatstroke is a highly preventable cause of injury in children.
Nick Bravin is a freelance writer who works with businesses to increase their online presence by creating informative, engaging, and shareable web content. He works closely with New Jersey personal injury lawyers, Aiello Harris, as a content creator. Bravin loves the hustle and owns several businesses. During his free time, you will find him traveling, reading marketing books, playing football, or listening to jazz.