As a car seat technician, I educate caregivers about the proper installation and use of child restraints. Car seat technicians also have the opportunity to educate families on a number of other safety concerns in and around vehicles, from the dangers of leaving children alone in a vehicle to the importance of checking around a vehicle for any children, toys or pets before backing up. One common topic of education during car seat checks is the danger of projectiles in vehicles.
You might be wondering what we mean by projectiles. Essentially, this is anything that might have the ability to come loose or move freely in the car in the event of a crash.
So what types of items are we talking about? Mirrors placed on the seat back in front of a rear-facing child. Pull down window shades. DVD players. Tissue boxes. Bags. Sporting equipment. Toys. Booster seats. You get the picture.
Any of these items are a concern because, in a crash, they may strike the driver or other vehicle passengers, causing injury. (Check out this blog post about a child who had to receive more than 400 stitches because of a soft-spouted sippy cup that went flying in an accident.)
Car seat technicians use a simple formula to help explain crash forces: weight x speed = force.
As an example, if you have an older child that uses a booster seat, chances are you don’t think about fastening the booster seat into the vehicle with the seat belt when the child is not using it. Let’s say that booster seat weighs about 5 pounds. Even in a low-speed crash – 30 miles per hour – using the formula above as a guide, during that crash the unrestrained booster seat will now move towards the point of impact with approximately 150 pounds of force.
To help limit the threat of projectiles in your car consider doing the following:
- Buckle up unused booster seats;
- Store items (like bags and purses) on the floorboard of the vehicle;
- Use cargo nets or shields in the back of SUVs;
- Choose window-cling sunshades rather than the shades with suction cups and metal bars; and
- Entertain a small child with soft options, such as stuffed animals or soft covered books.
And remember, it is important for ALL passengers in the vehicle to buckle up on every ride.
Click here for more information about child passenger safety and the car seat services offered at Children’s Hospital.