Five Things Every Parent Needs In The Car

June 30, 2011

Frankly, parents can use all the help they can get. Along with love and responsibility – and your little ones – here are a few things that every parent should take along for the ride:

Rearview camera - Lacking eyes in the back of your head, the next-best thing is an absolute necessity if you can afford it: a rearview camera in the car. Strongly consider adding this as an option if a new vehicle purchase is in the works, or buy an aftermarket item and have it installed. The rearview camera can help parents “see” blind spots behind the vehicle to avoid hitting children playing there when backing up. But a rearview camera is only an addition to the premier safety precaution of physically checking all around the vehicle before getting in. The larger the vehicle – SUVs, minivans or pickups – the harder it is to know what, or who, is back there.

Hands-free cell phone - No, this isn’t so you can stave off boredom by being on the phone and distracted from driving responsibly, it’s for use if there’s an emergency and you need to summon help. When you’ve got children in the car or you’re trying to get home to them, having a hands-free cell phone to make a call is just good sense. Always pull over to the side of the road, where and when it’s safe to do so, stop the car and then make the call. Be sure you have enough juice by stashing a cell-phone charging cord you can plug into the car’s cigarette lighter.

List of emergency contacts - When something unforeseen occurs, it might not be that easy to remember the phone number of your emergency contact. Don’t waste precious time trying to recall a phone number. Carry a list of contact numbers -- home, office and cell – so that you’re always prepared. Include numbers for caregivers and babysitters, school, doctor, neighbor, relative and anyone else you’d need to alert or ask for help in an emergency.

booster seat with good fit - IIHS

booster seat with good fit - IIHS

Enlarge Photo
Child car seats for each child under the age of four years - Any child under the age of four years old that will be transported in the family car requires an age-appropriate child car seat or booster seat. This includes any children parents may be car-pooling for neighbors or friends. Make sure the child car seats are properly installed and that all children are securely restrained in them before starting up the car and getting underway. Older children, but under the age of twelve, must ride in the back of the car and be buckled up with seat belts.

Other necessities - In order to drive safely with children in the car, parents need a number of additional items, the number and variety of which will vary according to family needs. Chief among them are age-appropriate toys, books, DVDs, and other distractions to keep children occupied; and snacks, juices, formula and water to keep them satisfied and hydrated. Extra layers of clothing, blankets and pillows, a first-aid kit, flashlight, emergency flares and a map are other necessities to carry in the car. A sense of humor also helps and can save more than just your sanity.

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