Getting to child care safely may seem easy enough for those that don’t have kids but, as a Mum I know that in the mornings there is this ‘time compression’ phenomena which means three hours seems more like three minutes and getting out the door can be a race no matter how prepared you are the night before. In the last few months I have been working with Queensland charity Kidsafe Queensland, helping them with their awesome 6 Days of Road Safety Campaign this week. So this week we have a 3-part Road Safety blog special in conjunction with the UN’s Global Road Safety Week. The posts will provide you with tops tips on car seats, driveway safety, strollers, bikes, scooters and general road safety to get you and your child to child care safely.
Before your Go: Car Seats
Child car restraints reduce the risk of injury and death in a car accident by preventing contact between the child and the car’s interior, protecting the child from impact and spreading any impact force onto stronger parts of the body. KidsafeQld CEO Susan Teerds shared a scary stat with us, “up to 75 per cent (and sometimes more) of child car restraints are not being used or are not fitted correctly or are not the correct restraint for the child. Common mistakes include the inbuilt harness is not at the correct height (on the child’s shoulder), the top tether is not connected or not connected to an anchor point, the seatbelt is incorrectly threaded or not buckled, and harness straps or tether straps are twisted.”
So here are your top tips to get those seats in tip top shape:
- Use a restraint. I know weird to have to say this but some people think their newborn babies are safer and more protected on mums lap. NO! We are not in the 70’s peeps! From birth baby must be rear facing. Unwrap the baby and place the 6 point harness over the baby’s shoulders, hips and between the legs. You might consider hiring a baby carrier or capsule from your local charity like Kidsafe Qld or the Ambo’s in other states? Fit it two weeks before your due date. You have time to make sure it fits in the car and you know how to use it. Practice with a teddy.
- All child car seats/restraints must meet the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1754. That means NO you cannot buy a seat off the internet from any other country – even New Zealand – or bring one with you from overseas and use it here. It is illegal and dangerous. Look for the red Australian Standard sticker with the ticks. It is not safe to buy a second-hand seat because you do not know if it has been in a severe accident (in which case it must be destroyed) and certainly you cannot use a seat over 10 years old – cut all the straps and dump it!
- Can we use IsoFIX seats? NO! All IsoFIX seats are made overseas. What we have in Australia is IsoFIX-compatible seats with connections (soft or rigid) that connect to the IsoFIX connectors in some cars. These Australian Standard IsoFIX compatible seats are even safer than the ‘famed’ European models as they include a top tether strap and have indicators on the connections that will show green when the connectors are attached to the car’s IsoFIX loops securely. Best seats in the world are right here peeps!
- Baby can transition to a forward facing restraint when it meets these 3 criteria: legally must be a minimum of six months old, must meet the minimum shoulder height markings in the forward-facing restraint, and be able to sit on the floor independently – that is can hold up its head (the heaviest part of a bub’s body) without toppling over. This will usually be at about 10-12 months. Rear facing longer is safer.
- Your child must stay in a forward-facing restraint with an inbuilt harness until 4 years of age but can stay longer if they still fit. They are safer in a restraint that has an inbuilt harness, you can buy them for kids up to an average age of 8 years! Legally they can progress to a booster seat at 4 years and must stay in it until a minimum of 7 years. If at that time they cannot sit on the adult seat with their bum all the way back, legs bent over the edge of the seat, with the lap/sash adult seatbelt on their shoulder (not digging into their neck) and across the hard bones of their hip then they are not safe and should be popped back into the booster. Look for the new boosters for kids up to an average age of 10 years! Don’t be in a rush to transition – the legal minimum is the minimum, not a ‘magic age’ or the safest for your child. Be a #kidsafemum
Leaving the house
Every week in Queensland, three children are run over in low speed accidents – many of which are in a driveway. I am sharing these statistics to not only remind myself but any other mums stopping by to read the blog. The fact is, this stuff happens frequently so here are a few tips to keeping everyone in check.
1. Seat belt check When you are heading off in the morning pack everyone into the car and check seat belts are on.
2.Walk around the car after drop off If you are dropping off a few little ones at childcare or Grandma’s house walk around the car before you hop in to check no one is hiding behind the vehicle, sensors alone won’t prevent a run over. Sensors didn’t help me when I reversed into a wall (true story).
3. Create play spaces separate from driveways When you are at home create separate play areas from driveway areas. You could install high handles on garage doors, self closing doors and fences between the driveway and front lawn – consider using pool gates as side fence gates! If you are walking to school or around your neighbourhood teach your littlies to treat a driveway like a road and stop, look, listen and think.
Tune in to tomorrow’s blog post, Part 2 of our Road Safety Series about how to teach children to be switched onto road safety and how to walk safely with you, to child care or school.
I’ve joined with bloggers www.goldcoastmum.com and www.mummywifeandme.com.au and www.motherdownunder.com to promote this campaign so hop on over to their blogs and take a look.
If you want to check in with safety updates for you and your family and be a #KidsafeMum subscribe to the Kidsafe Newsletter http://www.kidsafeqld.com.au/news/subscribe-to-our-newsletter