About a year or so ago, in a very cold and snowy December, I was in the New York City visiting a dear friend and his family. His two kids- a daughter about 3 and son about 7 months old were my prime reason to visit them. The weather was too cold for me, what with snow and cold breeze in that December which was labeled unusually cold even for New York.
In the evening we decided to go out for dinner, that is when I observed the ritual, each time the kids need to go out in car they will religiously put them in child seats in the rear seat. During this process the car will be open (though the heat would be running), the kids will patiently wait till they were wrapped in the child seat. Once done we will settle in the car and move to the destination, where the unseating will be done religiously.
The process will be repeated every time we get in and out of the car. This whole thing was a bit amusing to my desi eyes. Later, I questioned him why to do the whole act? When we were just going a short distance and the traffic moving at snail’s pace in the snowy weather.
The answers obviously were news to me, and he did not say anything about the law or the police or the ticket he may get. No he did not even talk about child safety, he simply said this:
“Bhai these kids are born in USA, they will be growing and living here all their life, so they better get used to the best practices they need to follow as early as possible. The earlier they get used to what is right and expected the better it will be for them in the long run.”
I am sure all of you who have lived or worked in US will be able to relate to the same.
On the contrary, the way we transport our kids in India is really pathetic, be it school rickshaws, and buses, family of 5 on a bike or parents letting their underage kids drive motor vehicles are examples of apathy towards safety and well-being of children .
While I can understand not everybody can afford to buy a car and is forced to travel with kids on a bike, but what about parents who have cars and yet do not follow basic safety guidelines?
Here are my own rules that I follow with kids in the car:
- Though we do not have child seats, the kids are always in back seat as it is safer for the kids.
- When the kids were still traveling in the mom’s lap she too was traveling in the backseat with the passenger seat carrying all kinds of baby stuff. As it has been proven that in case of pressing brakes at high speed the kid can fly off the arms of mother in the front seat and hit the windscreen. ( Recently happened with one of our neighbours, the kid lost 3 front teeth, fortunately they were milk teeth so they will be back, but the pain and the trauma will take a long time to go).Our kids never traveled in the front seat when they were too small. I suggest you please follow the same.
- Now, some of you may argue that, in our cities the traffic is so bad that we are never at high speed, but it is not a valid argument, because you never know when you may get a clean patch and you may have to press the accelerator.
- I always, I repeat always wear a seat belt, and show it to the kids that I am wearing a seat belt, as I want to make sure that when the girls learn to drive they take it as mandatory, because dad also buckles up.
- We make sure that the child lock in the rear doors is always on. I know it is a pain to get down and open the door for them every time, but it is worth it.
These are my own rules and in no way complete, please suggest what safety precautions you follow when traveling with kids. Any best practices would be good to learn.
Sasha and Prasad Np are proud parents of 2 girls whom they fondly call Princess and Pinkette. He wears many hats after taking a break from being corner office critter for a long time. He is now an entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, traveler and a potential investor in start-ups with unique concepts especially if they are in travel related business. He blogs at Desi Traveler, and can be reached at Facebook and Twitter.