Summer travel safety tips

Many families count Memorial Day as the unofficial start to summer! Summertime brings much excitement to families. Schools are let out, vacations are planned, and oftentimes with this, road travel! Before you plan that family vacation, hook up the new boat or camper, and hit the road with your family and friends, we want to be sure you take a moment to review these summer travel safety tips. Prevention is key. Taking the time to review these safety tips will keep you from having to deal with a preventable injury later!

Buckle up – every trip, every time. All passengers should be properly restrained. This includes adults in their seat belts, as well as children in the correct child safety seat for their age, height, weight and developmental level. As the adult, you can set the example by wearing your seat belt every time. These are some basic tips for child restraint use in cars:

  • All children under 13 should ride in the back seat.
  • Children should ride rear facing for as long as possible (while still meeting the height and weight requirements of your specific car seat).
  • Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed and that any children riding with you are in the correct car seat, booster seat, or seat belt that is appropriate for their size. All passengers in your vehicle should be buckled up on every trip, every time.
  • Make an appointment at your local car seat inspection station to have your child restraints checked prior to leaving for your trip. You can make an appointment at ghschildrens.org/kohls
  • Click on NHTSA’s child passenger safety recommendations to find out how to select the right seat for your child’s age and size.
  • Never leave your child unattended in or around your vehicle.
  • Always remember to lock your vehicle when exiting so children do not play or get trapped inside.

Vehicle-related heatstroke is also a big concern once we enter warmer months. Heatstroke can occur when a child is left unattended in a parked car, or if the child finds an unlocked car, gains access, and then locks themselves inside. Never leave a child alone in the car – not even for a few minutes or even with the car running. With temperatures only in the 70s, the car can heat to a deadly temperature in just a matter of minutes. Research shows that this can still happen even with the window rolled down. NOTE: A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than that of an adult!

In 2018, 52 children died due to vehicular heatstroke, and six of those deaths took place here in South Carolina. So far, in 2019, we have lost seven children to vehicular heat stroke. In one instance, the outdoor temperature was only 69 degrees.

Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT.

  1. Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute. Make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
  2. Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Alternatively, place and secure your phone, briefcase, or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.
  3. Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations

These tips for safe summer travel can not only give you peace of mind as we move into the warmer months, but they will also make sure your family enjoys a safe and fun summer together! For more safety related tips and information, check out www.safekidsupstate.org.

Bridgette Watson is Buckle Up Program Coordinator with the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy, part of the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–Upstate.

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