Summer vacation has arrived! Pretty soon, you’ll be packing up the car with the kids and heading out to find adventure. Of course, when you’ve got your precious cargo with you, safety should be your number one priority. What can you do this summer to make sure your kiddos arrive to your destination safely? Refresh yourself on what the law on child car seats in Arizona is, and how you can keep your kids safe on the road this summer with our summer family road trip tips.
Car Seat Safety
In Arizona, all children age seven and under must be in some type of child restraint systems such as a car seat or booster seat. Children four and under must be in car seats, while children ages five to seven, and under 57 inches tall, must be in a booster seat. Children over the age of seven and over 57 inches tall must be restrained by a seat belt. With so many different car seats and boosters on the market, selecting the right one for your child can be quite difficult. It’s important that you select the best car seat for your vehicle. Car seats are constructed differently and while one may be perfect for a sedan, it may not work in an SUV. When you’re searching for the right car seat for your family, be sure to look at a child car seat buying guide to help you decide.
Many parents are aware that babies in car seats must face toward the rear of the vehicle. However, many parents wonder when their child can face forward in their car seat. Because babies have heavy heads and delicate necks, the neck bones are soft, and ligaments are pliable. It is far too dangerous for babies to face forward during a frontal collision. While older children and adults may suffer from temporary neck pain, in a crash, a baby would experience permanent damage. When a baby faces toward the rear, their whole body is cradled by the back of the safety seat in nearly all impacts.
It is widely known that babies and toddlers need to be in child restraint seats, yet, many parents ask how long a child needs a car seat. Many children will need a booster until the ages of between 10 and 12. The best way to determine if a child is ready to travel without a booster seat is with the answer of ‘yes’ to the 5-Step Test:
- Is the child able to sit all the way against the seat in the car?
- Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat?
- Does the seat belt come across the shoulder between the neck and arm?
- Is the lap portion of the seat belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
- Can the child stay seated, in this position, the whole trip?
Road Trip Tips – Traveling with Children
Along with diapers, snacks, and entertainment devices, be sure to pack extra patience and safety before you head out on your travels. Road trips with children may take longer due to frequent stops, noise, and other conditions. Follow our tips on how to survive a family road trip:
- Sleep Well – Drive only when well-rested, switch with other drivers when you feel fatigued, and take breaks every two hours. Drinking water will also keep you alert and prompt some potty breaks, which will help keep you awake.
- Practice Car Seat Safety – Follow our tips above!
- Pack an Emergency Road Kit – Accidents happen, traffic gets backed up, and cars break down. Be prepared for whatever comes your way with our road trip essentials.
- Sun Protection – Sunburns happen even in the car. Be sure to pack hats, sunglasses, and protect skin with sunblock. When you leave the car, cover car seats and boosters with blankets or towels to avoid getting too hot and burning your child’s tender skin. Always do a touch-test before allowing a child to sit in seats.
- Take Children with You – Never, ever leave kids alone in a car. Even with temperatures in the 80’s, the interior of the vehicle heats up quickly and can cause heatstroke in a matter of minutes.
- Child Proof Your Car – Just like at home, kids can get into things that may harm them. Activate all child safety locks on doors and windows, out of reach of little fingers. Also, look for hazardous or poisonous liquids, such as coolant, etc. and remove them from the backseat and out of harm’s way. Search for choking hazards such as knobs that can be easily popped off as well as small toys and loose change. Ensure everything in the vehicle is secured from small items to suitcases and strollers. In crashes or sudden stops, loose items become projectiles.