27 August 2012

Child Transportation Safety Tips

Today on the internets, some of my parent friends started talking about front-facing versus rear-facing child seats. Apparently it's a big subject! The subsequent discussion quickly turned tense; it seemed everyone had an opinion about how best to keep their child -- and everyone else's child -- safe while traveling.

In light of this discussion, and while child safety is on everyone's minds, I thought I'd share some helpful lessons I learned in my own childhood.

Child Transportation Safety Tips
From The Adults Who Supervised My Childhood

1. When driving long distances, make sure the children are safely zipped into their Pound Puppy or Rainbow Brite sleeping bags. 

If you put the seats of your station wagon down and let them stretch out in the back of the car, properly zipped sleeping bags will keep them from pinching each other while you drive, therefore keeping everyone safe and happy. As long as they're lying down, they don't need seatbelts, because they're sleeping, and nobody needs to wear a seat belt when she's sleeping.

This child could totally still ride
on a bicycle baby seat

2. When driving long distances, or into any vaguely wild, remote area, or anywhere, really, be sure to have a cooler* full of cold beer cans available at all times.

These will come in handy in emergency situations, such as a child accidentally stepping on a nest full of yellow jackets after you encouraged her to go walking on some abandoned train tracks in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains while you went to go pee behind a tree. When your child is stung eight or nine times, the cold beer cans will help to soothe the stings while you frantically drive to the nearest Ranger Station.

*Note: If it is the 1980s, feel free to drink while you drive, because apparently that is still legal.

Helpful hint! Teach your child to identify yellow jacket nests at an early age, as well as other natural hazards such as rotting logs, uneven terrain, and bears.

3. When transporting children in a pickup truck, instruct the children to lie down in the bed of the truck as long as it is moving. 

It is never safe for children to stand in the bed while the truck is in motion. Have the children hold a blanket over them, so the cops can't see them. Remind children to hold tight! It gets windy back there.

Fun family tradition! The baby gets to ride in the cab.

4. Never allow a child to drive a car until her legs are long enough to reach the pedals. 

Unless she's sitting on your lap, in which case it's probably totally fine.

5. Children grow quickly! Prepare yourself for the day when your child outgrows the rear-mounted baby seat on your bicycle.

If she's outgrown the baby seat, do not try to squish her into it. Instead, have her sort of perch on top of the seat with her coltish legs hanging over the edge. When she outgrows that, teach her the rules of bicycle safety so she can use proper arm signals as she rides on your handlebars.

6. When tobogganing with your child, be sure to choose the steepest hill in town.

That way, when you suggest she stand in the back of the toboggan "like a dogsled musher," her fall will be swift and she'll have plenty of room to roll down the hill.

7. Teens and cars can be a dangerous combination. Distracted driving is deadly driving! 

If your teen won't stop rolling her eyes, sighing, and listening to obnoxious music on her walkman, make her a nest of pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags on top of all the suitcases in the back of your SUV. She'll have a comfortable spot to write her moody poetry, and you won't be distracted as you drive!

Safety tip: a sudden stop could be hazardous for a nested teen. In case of a sudden stop, warn your teen to hold tightly to the back of the seat, the interior roof handle, the clothes hanger hook, or anything else she can grab. Alternately, gently suggest that your teen try to sleep on her pile of suitcases and sleeping bags, because as everyone knows, nobody needs to wear a seatbelt when she's sleeping.


Hannah said...

Thank you for this, Molly!

Lara said...

This is HILARIOUS. Love it. "A sudden stop could be hazardous for a nested teen" = brilliant.

Marvis Carswell said...

I had fun reading your post, Molly! The way I see it, safety and enjoyment are the most important things to remember when it comes to child transportation. In our children’s eyes, being in a car is like being in an amusement park, so we mustn’t stop them from having fun. And because children recognize transportation as a form of play, safety isn’t apparent to them. Hence, it’s our responsibility that our children are kept away from the hazards of driving as much as possible.