Orlando, Florida – The American Automobile Association (AAA) is kicking off the U.S. National Child Passenger Safety Week with a reminder to parents, grandparents and other caretakers that it’s as important to child-proof a vehicle as it is to child-proof a home. The AAA is offering ten tips to keep children safe in vehicles.

In the U.S., motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 2 to 14, and the leading cause of injury-related death for children under age 2. In 2006, on average, 3 to 4 children were killed each day, and more than 500 injured as occupants in motor vehicle crashes.

The AAA suggests the following:

Secure loose items – Purses, briefcases, laptops, CDs and umbrellas can potentially become flying projectiles during a sudden stop or crash. Make sure any items in the vehicle are secured, in both the front and back seat areas.

Use child locks – Engage the child safety locks on the vehicle doors to keep children from opening them while the vehicle is in motion.

Use the correct safety restraint – Always use the safety restrain system appropriate for the child’s age, height and weight. The four stages of restraint systems are rear-facing child safety seat, forward-facing child safety seat, booster seat, and lap and shoulder belts. Assistance in identifying the correct restraint can be found at AAA.

Install the seat correctly – According to NHTSA, 3 out of 4 child safety seats are improperly installed. Read the installation instructions thoroughly; it’s best to have a seat checked by a certified technician.

Position away from airbags – Children should be positioned away from the front passenger airbags and side impact airbags. All children should be seated in the back seat until age 13.

Use soft toys – Give children only soft toys to play with when in the vehicle. Hard toys can become dangerous projectiles during a sudden stop or crash, and can be harmful to other vehicle occupants if thrown by the child.

Secure unused safety seats – Unused safety seats, booster seats or attachments should be secured when not in use, to avoid them becoming airborne during a sudden stop or crash.

Avoid non-regulated products – Do not use non-regulated products such as mirrors, window covers, harness covers or extra padding that are not recommended by the child safety seat manufacturer. These may cause injury during a crash.

Lock the vehicle – Keep the doors, trunks and hatchbacks locked, and the keys out of reach, when the vehicle is not in operation, to eliminate any risk of children climbing into the vehicle. Children should understand that vehicles are not a place to play.

Adult supervision – Always have adult supervision in or around vehicles. Children should never be left unattended in a vehicle, with or without the engine running.

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