Another reminder to never leave a child alone in a car

We know we shouldn’t leave kids unattended in the car, especially in the heat. The story of a 1-year-old in Killeen, who died after being found with the car seat strap around his neck, reminds us that there are other dangers of leaving a child alone in a car.

Do you know how to properly fit an infant, toddler and preschooler to a car seat? 

As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, Safe Kids Austin sponsored a free child car seat inspection in 2007. They will do the same this weekend at Highland Mall. 2007 Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman

Most rear- and forward-facing car seats have harnesses that get threaded through different places depending on the height of the child. You’ll want to make sure that harness is in the right place, and that it is tight

  • You should not be able to pinch the harness straps together anywhere.
  • The chest piece that goes across the harness should be parallel to the child’s armpits.
  • Do not use pillows to hold a floppy neck. Use the pillow provided in the car seat or rolled-up baby blankets on each side of the child.
  • In infant seats, the handle bar needs to be down.
  • In convertible seats, the base needs to be in the correct position for either rear-facing for infants or forward-facing for toddlers.

In booster seats, you want the belt to be tight, but not cutting off circulation. You also want to make sure your child is not trying to put the seat belt under his arm or behind his back.

How do you know what kind of seat each person in the car should be in?

Check out this guide.

Where should your child be in the car? Don Tate II Austin American-Statesman

1. A teenager or an adult can ride in the front seat with a seat belt on. The safest place is still the back seat.

2. An infant must be in a rear-facing car seat.

3. Adult drivers must wear seat belts.

4. Children younger than age 2 should be in rear-facing car seats.

5. A 4- to 7-year-old should sit in a high-back booster seat until he reaches the upper weight and/or height limit for the seat.

6. A 2- to 4-year-old should ride in a forward-facing car seat until he reaches the upper weight and/or height limit for the seat.

7. An 8- to 12-year-old less than 4 feet 9 inches can be in a high-back booster or a low-back booster used with the car’s adjustable head rest until he reaches the upper weight and/or height of the seat.

Remember your kid in the car

Most parents have had a moment where they drove somewhere and forgot that they had their child with them in the car. Often, it’s the parent who doesn’t normally take the kid to school or daycare and shows up to work without dropping off their child first. I know I did it. Luckily, my son was in middle school when he announced to me from the Statesman parking lot that I had indeed forgotten that he was there and forgotten to take him to school. If he had been younger, he would not have been able to tell me I had forgotten about him. It could have been deadly.

Here are a couple of tips to help you:

  1. Place something of value that you typically bring with you like your cell phone, your keys (if you have the automatic start car), your lunch or briefcase in the the back seat.
  2. Place the diaper bag in the seat next to you as a clue that “Hey, you have the baby today.”
  3. Set a reminder alarm or message on your phone that reminds you to drop off the baby.
  4. Set the GPS on your phone or car to the day care center or school, so you don’t go somewhere else instead.
  5. Get your own baby-on-board suction cup sign and put it on the dashboard any time you have the child with you.
  6. Ask the other parent to text you to make sure drop off went OK.
  7. Put a barrier between you and the door that prevents you from leaving without recognizing that your kid is in the car.  An 11-year-old boy in Ohio invented a string of rubber bands that ties from the back of the driver’s seat to the door frame. You would hook it on whenever you have a kid in the car and when you go to leave, the rubber bands stop you from exiting while remembering why they are there.

A couple of new products are coming to the market place as well to help you. The eClip just went through a Kickstarter campaign and is expected to be available in fall. It’s a digital clip that hooks onto the car seat strap or diaper bag. It sends your phone an alert about the temperature in the car. It also uses Bluetooth to alert you if you walk 15 feet away from the car and the clip. Find out more at http://elepho.com/ks

Chevy also has introduced a Rear Seat Reminder in its 2018 Equinox. The reminder activates if the rear seat is opened and closed up to 10 minutes before the car is started or while the car is running. It then gives the driver a “Rear Seat Reminder/Look in Rear Seat” message on the dashboard the next time the car is turned off.