It is June and the end of the school season. That means that there are many more children out and about. I just want to take a few minutes to remind people about child vehicle safety.
Last week there was a horrible reminder of how easy it is for an accident to happen, with the loss of Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman’s 5 year old daughter. She was killed when she somehow got in the path of a vehicle driven by her teenaged brother. Our prayers go out to the whole family at their time of loss. But, the period of grieving is going to be complicated because of their son being the driver of the vehicle. There are so many emotions to deal with, in addition to loosing their daughter.
Teen drivers have less experience watching out for the little ones. They are new to driving and it only takes a second for a distraction to cause an accident. With cell phones, radios and passengers along for the ride there is much to distract a driver these days. Also, reminding elderly drivers about taking extra precautions around driving near young children is a good idea. Every driver needs reminding about such things. Teaching the little ones to play away from parking areas, away from the curb, or away from the roadways is very important.
Educating teens and reminding all other drivers about the extra dangers of the importance of watching out for kids at play…especially when balls, bikes, skates or skateboards are involved. Quick decisions by young children aren’t based on …is it safe for me to chase my ball that just went out into the road, or is it safe for me to skate across the corner of the road…or am i fast enough to get by on my bike…they just make quick decisions that can put a driver in a bad situation.
My adult daughter lives in a housing development in a cul -de- sac. This is a housing development that has alot of young families; as well as a day care, right next door. I am paranoid when i go to visit because of the parking available. Whenever i arrive or leave, i take several exta moments to check where all of the little ones are because; they are riding little electric cars that are low to the ground, they are running and chasing each other, they are often riding little bikes and push toys. It is hard to see them. I am terrified that i will miss seeing one of them while backing out of the parking space. Apartment buildings, beaches, parks and school zones are all areas that require extra focus and attention watching for children at play.
The neighbor who runs the day care, in my daughter’s neighborhood, is very good about keeping an eye on the children and no-one plays out of doors without adult supervision. However, it only takes a moment to be distracted as parents arrive to pick up, or, drop off their children. There are other neighbors, who get visitors, who do not always watch their children vigilantly. It only takes a few extra minutes to make sure where everyone is located; and, to make them aware that a vehicle is coming or going. It could save a life and alot of legal responsibility.
As long as we are talking vehicle safety and wee ones…let talk about the electronic windows. It is so easy for little ones to accidently get trapped in the electronic windows. Every year we hear of deaths or severe injuries caused by little arms or heads that somehow get rolled up in the electronic windows. Please, please, please, make sure the children are strapped into their seat belts or their child restraint seats properly. That way, you can be a little more confident that they are not playing with the buttons on the windows while you are driving.
Children love playing and hiding in out of the way places. Cars are a temptation. If there are abandoned cars in your neighborhood…get them removed or locked up. Please, keep your vehicle locked when you are not using it…even if it is parked in a garage. Children sometimes get into the vehicles and can’t get back out; or they climb into the trunk and the same thing happens. Teach children not to play in a vehicle; but still, protect them and yourself by locking the vehicle.
Communities are becoming much more pro-active about teaching and inspecting child seat restraints. Often community police or rescue personnel will offer a safety inspection of your child safety seat. They will make sure that they are properly installed and offer tips on how best to make sure that your child or grandchild is safe.
Finally, now that summer is here…the warm weather is too. The air in a closed vehicle quickly heats up and becomes unsafe for little ones to be left in a vehicle; even for just a few minutes. Always, always take your child into the store or gas station. For safety’s sake, do not leave them in the vehicle. Even when the vehicle is empty, crack the windows a bit; or, open the vents in the back of the vehicle to let out excess heat so that the vehicle is not overly warm when you and your child get back into the vehicle. That blast of heat can damage young lungs and it can be painful to the skin to touch hot seats.
Every year we hear tragic reports, on the news, of another child that died as a result of being left in a hot vehicle. When transporting your child to day care on your way to work…place your brief case, lunch bag, purse or some other such reminder in the back so that in your haste you don’t forget that your child is strapped in the back.
Put a reminder in the front seat near you such as a toy or a bottle, to remind yourself that your child is in the back; especially if you are transporting your child in an out of normal circumstance of your daily routine. Or, put a post it note in a bright color on your steering wheel; these reminders are important, because forgetting your child is not an option. If the child falls asleep and is quiet, in your haste to get to work or whatever your routine is, if you normally dont transport your child at that time every day…it can happen that you “forget” that your child is in the vehicle with you.
It seems silly to go over these safety issues…but, take the time to remind yourself of them. It is worth taking a few extra minutes to go over them if it saves one life…and a lifetime of guilt and regrets. Have a safe and fun summer!
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