Thanksgiving Travel Safety Tips

Road trips to be with family and friends are a timeless Thanksgiving tradition. Here are some extra tips on keeping your little ones safe for the journey. No one ever thinks too much about Thanksgiving travel safety.

By Kimberly Phipps

It’s Turkey Time!

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go! This elementary school classic is still sung by happy kids everywhere on the ride to Grandmother’s house, or anywhere else, on Thanksgiving weekend. This holiday is one of the biggest driving weekends of the year, and keeping kids safe while in the car is every parent’s responsibility. Having a car seat is the best way to keep a child safe, but it can only work if it’s installed correctly. Yet, according to. Buckle Up For Life, an organization founded by Toyota and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, up to 75 percent of car safety seats are not properly installed. Buckle Up For Life has put together a list of travel tips to help you do the job right, and keep you kids–and you–safe this weekend and beyond.

Use the “Inch and Pinch” Test

(No, don’t worry–not on your waist!) After you’ve buckled your child in, pinch the car seat strap near their shoulders. If you can pinch a wrinkle in the fabric, tighten the strap until it is snug. Then grab the car seat at the bottom where it is attached to the car and tug from side to side and front to back. If the seat moves more than an inch in either direction, tighten it.

Secure Holiday “Extras” in the Car

Make sure that all gifts, luggage and other holiday “extras” are tightly secured in your vehicle. These objects could become projectiles in the event of a crash. 

Ensure Your Child’s Seat Faces the Correct Way

Some parents and caregivers may wonder when it’s safe to turn the car seat around to face forward. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain in rear-facing car seats until age two, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the seat. 

Remove Your Child’s Winter Coat

Before securing your child in their seat, remove their winter coat. A coat can prevent the harness from fitting correctly. It also could compress in a crash, compromising the seat’s ability to protect your child. Until the car is warm enough, use a blanket to keep your child warm.

Don’t Rent a Car Seat

Traveling by plane? If you are renting a car, use your own car seat. When you rent a seat you don’t know important facts about its history that could affect its ability to protect your child (e.g., expiration date, crash history, etc.) The good news is that many airlines allow you to check your car seat for free.

Wear Your Seat Belts, Mom and Dad

Lead by example. When you wear your seat-belt, your kids will wear their seat-belt. Kids want to be like adults, so be a good example and buckle up for every car ride.

More info about the above tips, as well as additional guidance, including animated car seat installation videos, can be found on Buckle Up for Life is a national injury prevention program for families, created by Toyota and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to help keep child passengers safe. The program helps teach parents and children about the proper use of car seats and seat belts and to provide free car seats to families in need.

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