Winter can be a beautiful and exciting time of the year, but it can also be hazardous when it comes to driving with babies, toddlers, and children.
Despite the mild winters in South Africa, it is still important to hone your driving skills to handle any adverse weather conditions. This is especially crucial in the rainy Western Cape, KZN regions, and the misty lowveld.
In this article, we will share some winter vehicle safety tips to help keep your little ones safe and warm while travelling during the colder months.
Use a car seat appropriate for your child’s age and weight
Car seats are an essential safety tool for children in vehicles. It’s important to choose a car seat that is appropriate for your child’s age, weight, and height. Children should be rear-facing in their car seat until they are at least two years old, or until they reach the maximum weight or height limit of their rear-facing car seat.
Once your child has outgrown their rear-facing car seat, they can move to a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness. When your child outgrows their forward-facing car seat, they can move to a booster seat until they are big enough to use a regular seatbelt.
Warm up the car before driving
Before you hit the road, make sure to warm up your car. This will help make sure that your car is running smoothly and that your windows are clear of any frost or ice.
If you live in an area that experiences heavy fog during the winter months ensure that your vehicle is noticeable to other drivers ahead and behind you by switching on your low-beam headlights. This will activate your taillights as well. If you have fog lights, use them as an added measure.
Keep an emergency kit in your car
You never know what kind of emergency you may encounter on the road, especially during the winter months. Make sure to keep an emergency kit in your car that includes items like a first aid kit, a flashlight, a blanket, and some non-perishable food and water.
You may also want to consider packing some extra nappies or formula for your little one in case of an emergency.
Avoid bulky coats in car seats
While it may be tempting to bundle your child up in a thick coat or jersey before strapping them into their car seat, this can actually be dangerous. Thick clothing can create extra space between your child and their car seat straps, which can prevent the straps from properly restraining your child in the event of an accident.
Instead, dress your child in a warm but thin layer before strapping them into their car seat. You can then use a blanket or coat to cover your child once they are safely buckled in.