The world marked Universal Children’s Day on November 20 and this is indeed the right time to think about enhancing the safety of children when traveling. Children are our future, our most precious assets and it is only right that their safety should get priority when we are on the road with them.
The move by the UAE government to introduce the new seatbelt law that makes it compulsory for all passengers to wear seatbelts and for all children upto four years of age to have appropriate car seats is indeed a welcome move in this direction. This will go a long way towards minimizing injuries to children in the event of an accident. Restraints that are appropriate for their age and size should be used for all children when they are travelling in a vehicle. When car seats, booster seats and restraints are used correctly, they are highly effective in saving the lives of children.
With the extremely hot temperatures that we experience in the UAE, it is also vital for parents to remember that they should never leave a child or baby alone in the car, even for a few minutes, even in winter when temperatures may seem mild to us adults, while they step out to buy a few snacks or get something from the supermarket. Leaving children alone in vehicles can prove to be fatal as they children can lose fluid very quickly and they become dehydrated, leading to heat stroke and potentially death.
When they use child restraints, whether it is for front facing or rear facing child seats, parents and caregivers should check the harness and top tether to ensure that they are film and have no twists. The tension of the harness straps should be correct and the seatbelts and harness buckles should be securely in place.
In the event that the child is old enough to use a booster seat, the sash part of the seatbelt should be positioned on the child’s shoulder. The seatbelt should be correctly adjusted so that the child gets maximum protection. The lap part of the seatbelt should pass over the upper thighs and across the hips – not the stomach area.
It is never advisable for children below ten years of age to travel in the front seat. Children have short attention spans and can get very distracted while travelling, especially on long road trips. Parents should make it a point to praise them when they behave well, and thus reward good behavior. Always have books or games that they can play in the car so that they are able to entertain themselves. Enforce the seatbelt rule and refuse to start the car unless they are all belted in. Talking with them and pointing out sights along the way will keep them engrossed. It is essential to take regular breaks on long trips. Another important aspect is to secure loose objects like (toys and other items) in the car as these could fly about and injure passengers during a crash or heavy braking. Children should always exit the car on the pavement side and never into oncoming traffic.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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