I'll always remember when we had the car seat technician install our very first child passenger safety seat. This was before our baby was even here.
He looked around the car, and started collecting various items from around the back seat: an empty thermos, some hardcover books, a screwdriver.
"Missiles," the police officer told us. "This is your first lesson. You should remove all hard objects from the car, because they become dangerous projectiles in an accident."
In fact, in 2001, an estimated 13,000 crashes occurred in which an unrestrained object caused injury to an occupant of the car.
Ever since that first lesson, I've been pretty good about putting my kids' soft cover books only in the back seat cargo flap, making sure no stray water bottles got left under the seat, and banning all die-cast cars and hard sports equipment from the front or back seats.
Keeping the passenger part of the car clear of all hard objects is hard, especially around holiday time when you are carting gifts, packages and platters of food and goodies all over the place.
We tend to forget some of the basic safety rules when riding in the car with our kids around this crazy time of year. So here's a little refresher:
- Use whatever means possible to secure unrestrained cargo and minimize carrying heavy unrestrained objects.
- Keep smaller items stowed in your glove compartment or storage area under the seat if available.
- Larger items should be locked in the trunk or secured in a box or cargo net.
- Don't forget to secure unoccupied booster seats, which could be thrown forward during an accident.
- Remove all winter coats from children before strapping them into car seats or booster seats.