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Safe Kids Carroll County: Keep children safe in and around vehicles

There are always things to be on the lookout for to keep our children out of danger’s way. So, with the warmer weather upon us, and lots of time spent outside, we need to give more attention to the dangers in and around cars.

Each year, more than 9,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for injuries that occurred while they were by themselves in or around motor vehicles. Many tragedies happen in driveways or parking lots when drivers are unaware that children are near. Tragically, these drivers are often family members or friends. But these situations are easily prevented. Take a look at these top tips to prevent one of these tragedies:

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Driveway safety

1. We know you’re often in a hurry, but before you get in the car, take a few seconds to walk all the way around your parked car to check for children.

2. Designate a safe spot for children to wait when nearby vehicles are about to move and make sure the drivers can see them.

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3. Accompany younger children when they get in and out of a vehicle. Hold their hand while walking near moving vehicles, in driveways, parking lots or on sidewalks.

Trunk entrapment

1. Make sure to lock your vehicle, including doors and trunk, when you’re not using it. Keep keys and remote entry fobs out of children’s sight and reach.

2. If your child is missing, get help and check swimming pools, vehicles and trunks. If a child is locked in a car, get him or her out as quickly as possible and dial 911 immediately. Emergency personnel are trained to evaluate and check for signs of heatstroke.

3. Teach children that trunks are for transporting cargo and are not safe places to play.

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4. Show older kids how to locate and use the emergency trunk release found in cars manufactured after Sept. 1, 2001. Young children will not have the strength or ability to open the release bar.

5. Keep rear fold-down seats closed to help prevent kids from climbing into the trunk from an unlocked car.

6. Talk to neighbors about keeping their vehicles locked.

Seat belt entanglement

1. Keep your cars locked so your children do not play in cars, at least without supervision.

2. Teach your children seat belts are not toys.

3. Make sure any unused shoulder belts within reach are buckled and switched to locking mode by pulling the seat belt all the way out then tighten, so the seat belt lays flat against the seat. This includes the seat belt in the child seating position, if you are using LATCH to install the car seat.

4. Keep a seat belt cutter handy just in case.

For any questions, contact Safe Kids Carroll County at 410-876-4448.

Lauren Harrison is a health educator with Carroll County Health Department.

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