Summer Travel Advice For Families From BubbleBum

Summer is almost here and with that comes the family travel season. As fun and memorable as they can be, they also can be chaotic and require a lot of planning. Grainne Kelly, founder of the award-winning inflatable car booster seat BubbleBum, is here with some advice for planning your family vacation to be the best it can be for everyone and without the chaos.

Are we there yet?

The best solution to this travel obstacle happens when no one asks the question. It may sound too good to be true, but it is possible to enjoy getting from place to place. First, know your kids and your personal limits. If they are good sleepers and the travel hours long, try leaving late at night. Have the designated driver rest well before the trip. Everyone else has a normal day, ending with calming baths and comfy jammies. Wake up your driver, load up the car and hit the open road. Passengers get a chance to sleep, the driver gets a peaceful drive hopefully less traffic. Be sure to an easy arrival day. The driver will need a chance to rest, so hopping out of the car and into an amusement park could cause some drama. Plan for day one to be spent exploring your accommodations, checking out the pool and playground and giving the tired driver some rest. Airline travel can be accomplished much the same way. Be sure to pack a small activity bag with snacks for each traveler just in case the excitement changes sleeping expectations.

If you chose to travel by daylight or are a family of travels too excited to rest, the trick to avoiding ‘are we there yet’ is found in how you pack the travel bags. Keeping the peace starts with everyone getting their own special bag of tricks. Magnetic puzzles, personal electronics, travel friendly art supplies and snacks are just a few of the ways to keep your travelers happily busy. Play a game together. The license plate game is a classic, but you can always include I Spy or a travel scavenger hunt. Choose known landmarks along your travel route and have a goal list. You can challenge the family to find them all or challenge each other by seeing who finds them all first.

Stop for Breaks:

Excitement and anticipation makes heroes of us all sometimes. Acknowledge it, and plan for it. There is nothing worse than arriving at your dream vacation exhausted and grumpy. Include breaks in your plan and arrive ready to enjoy the trip you’ve worked hard for. Rest stops are a good option for a picnic break. Pack a frisbee or ball for the family to work off any potential wiggles. Major airports sometimes include play areas for little ones. Check airport maps for options during layovers. If a designated play area is not available, take a walk around your terminal and stretch.

Be Prepared:

Regardless of how you travel: plane, train, boat, or car, be sure you have a minimum of a change of clothes and a few days of any required medicines for each member of your family. Copies of important documents and contact information should be included. You may choose one ready bag for everyone or incorporate these items in each individual’s travel bag, but don’t skip the step. If you make it through your travels without needing it, great! But on the occasion that you do need it, you’ll be grateful.

Travel Safely:

Research travel safety requirements across states and countries you travel through. Be sure the car seats and boosters you have will meet standards in each area you travel. Car seat bags for air travel keep your seat clean, protected, and are a great way to pack extra diapers, toys and blankets while saving room in your luggage. For older children, booster seats are key safety and comfort increasing measure. A great solution to booster seat travel is BubbleBum. The cost-effective, portable, lightweight, brightly colored, inflatable car booster seat for children aged between 4-11 easily deflates and folds flat so that kids or moms can carry it in a rucksack or handbag, making it perfect for vacation, rental cars, taxis, coach journeys, field trips or carpooling. BubbleBum is an innovative, portable, inflatable booster seat designed to ensure safe seat belt positioning and cure the dreaded ‘dead leg’ feeling your kids complain about when they spend longer jaunts in the booster seat. Happy, comfortable kids, make happy travelers. And the reduction in the amount of bulky items to haul when traveling makes dad and mom happy.

Planning with Flexibility:

Your idea of vacation doesn’t include spreadsheets and timed reservations? Have no fear and plan anyway. A plan is just a framework of information that makes rolling with the options your travels present that much easier. At a minimum, jot down your travel dates, any potential stops and places to stay. Research the areas you intend to visit and be aware of potential delays you might incur like festivals, parades, or holiday closures. Most popular destinations have planned maintenance and down time. You don’t want to roll into your favorite vacation place to find the main attraction or pool closed for refurbishment. Imagine the groans and potential drama. So even for the planning averse, spending a few minutes gathering information and building a basic vacation plan will make your travels a success.

 

Grainne Kelly

Grainne Kelly

About Grainne Kelly:

Grainne Kelly is a former travel agent and certified child passenger safety technician who revolutionized the child travel industry by inventing BubbleBum: the world’s FIRST inflatable booster seat that travels anywhere, fits three across, weighs less than one pound and can deflate in seconds, making it simple to throw in a backpack or purse. She regularly offers insight on child travel safety as well as planning/organizing for family trips. https://www.bubblebum.co/us/.

BubbleBum is sold online at BubbleBum.co/us and in Target stores nationwide. You can also connect with them on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Simple Seasonal Safety Tips

Limit your home fire risk during the festive season

It may be the most wonderful time of year, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. Along with the cooking and decorations that make the season magical, the festive season presents risks for home fires and burns.

An independent survey conducted by Shriners Hospitals for Children® found that many Americans do not follow key fire and burn safety tips despite being aware of dangerous risks. For example, 25 percent of respondents reported leaving lit candles unattended, and 27 percent said they have left them in reach of children.

“Some of these findings seem alarming, but each year our burn hospitals see the unfortunate results – children who have been injured in cooking related accidents or in fires associated with holiday decorations or candles,” said Kenneth Guidera, M.D., chief medical officer for Shriners Hospitals for Children. “These injuries can mean years of ongoing treatments and extensive rehabilitation for a child. That’s why we encourage families to learn about fire safety and prevention before a tragedy occurs.”

Fire and burn hazards are prevalent in many homes throughout the festive season, and Shriners Hospitals for Children offers these tips to remind families how to stay safe:

  • Never leave lit candles unattended. If you must use flame-burning candles, make sure to extinguish them when you leave the room.
  • When cooking, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove, out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave a hot stove or oven unattended.
  • While cooking, keep a lid or cookie sheet nearby to cover a pan if its contents catch fire.
  • If you decorate using a live, fresh-cut Christmas tree, water it daily.
  • Keep trees and other flammable decor at least 3 feet away from heaters and flames.
  • Discard decorative lights with bare wires, frays or kinks.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
  • Have an escape plan in case of a fire and practice it with your family members so they know how to react if a fire does occur.
  • Know the burn care resources in your community.

The Shriners Hospitals locations that specialize in burn care provide critical, surgical and rehabilitative care to children with varying degrees of new and healed burns. Their state-of-the-art burn facilities are staffed and equipped to provide reconstructive and restorative surgery for healed burns, as well as treatments for various other skin conditions. With 22 locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the health care system provides advanced care for children regardless of the families’ ability to pay. Learn more at shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.

Visit beburnaware.org to learn key fire safety practices to help avoid injuries this holiday season. You can find activity books, tip cards and a five-minute online quiz to help identify and eliminate potential risks.

Candle Safety for the Holidays

Candles are one of the most common sources of holiday fires. Never leave lit candles unattended and take these additional precautions to have a safe and fun holiday season:

  • When candles are lit, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked over.
  • Keep candles, matches and lighters out of reach of children.
  • Be conscious of nearby surroundings. Never place a candle near drapery, decorations or other flammable items that may easily catch fire. Also avoid drafty areas or fans, which can accelerate flames or accidentally blow a flammable item onto a candle.
  • Know that the safest way to extinguish a candle is with a snuffer.
  • Consider using wickless or flameless candles. There are numerous options that cast a warm glow so you can enjoy the ambiance of a candle without the risk.

Kids and Candles Don’t Mix

Julianna and her mother, Tracy, know firsthand how dangerous the holiday season can be. While at a family Christmas party, Julianna, just 20 months old, snuck away from the activities and was in the bathroom playing in front of the mirror. A lit tea light candle on the corner of the sink ignited her clothes.

Tracy heard Julianna’s screams from down the hall, ran to the bathroom and saw her daughter’s dress on fire. She patted out the flames and family members called an ambulance. Julianna spent three weeks at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Cincinnati to treat the third-degree burns that covered the left side of her body. Julianna, now 8-years-old, is doing well but faces ongoing treatment as she grows.

“We are very lucky,” Tracy said. “Julianna will be fine thanks to the care she received. We all get busy during this time of year, but it is so important for parents to make sure they are following basic safety tips to keep their kids safe.”  (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Shriners Hospitals for Children

4 Tire Safety Tips for Winter

The same temperature you can begin to see your breath – 45° F – is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.

As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.

Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45° F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.

To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts at Discount Tire recommend following these four tire safety tips:

  1. Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45° F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
  1. Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow and salt during the winter months.
  1. Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also don’t forget to check your spare tire.
  1. Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.

Your safety is important, that’s why Discount Tire encourages drivers to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.

To locate a tire store near you, or search for winter tires specific to your vehicle’s make and model, visit discounttire.com. (Family Features)

7 Ways to Help Hurricane Victims

Natural disasters come in multiple forms and can quickly devastate many lives in a matter of moments. While they all can cause nightmares for those affected, few are as powerful and destructive as hurricanes.

That’s why, when hurricanes make landfall and wreak havoc, help is immediately needed and accepted by the people and communities impacted the most. Here are a few ways you can make a positive impact for those affected by natural disasters, specifically hurricanes:

Start a Fundraiser

One of the most potentially impactful ways to lend a hand after a natural disaster is to start a community fundraiser. This can be as simple as an online account accepting donations for a group of people and sending a large sum to a relief organization, or as thought-out as a large-scale event, like a raffle or dinner, accepting donations for entry.

Donate

Money is typically the resource relief organizations can use the most during natural disasters, and it can also be the easiest way for people to lend aid. There are typically many trustworthy organizations available to donate to during times of need.

Promote Fundraising Efforts

After you’ve made a donation yourself, spread the word to others whether it’s via word of mouth, social media or other forms of communication. Let friends and family know how they can join the cause.

Volunteer

While it isn’t viable for everyone, some people closer to the affected region can directly help those in need with physical help at the place it’s most needed. Whether it’s passing out supplies, serving food to those displaced or other means of lending a hand, volunteers are a valuable resource following natural disasters.

Provide Shelter

Another option for people looking to help who are closer to the devastation is to offer shelter, especially if they have family members or friends who have been affected. Assisting at places sheltering the displaced is another way to provide help, if offering space in your home is not an option.

Give Blood

Injuries can be unavoidable when hurricanes and other disasters strike. One way to help those hospitalized or otherwise injured is to donate blood, possibly saving lives in the process.

Stay Persistent

In the immediate aftermath of storms and natural disasters, the news cycle is dominated by stories of triumph and despair, and by ways people can help. However, the storm is eventually overshadowed by other, more recent news. One major way people can help after a hurricane is by continuing their support long after the storm has passed, as those affected will need assistance, supplies and donations for much longer than just a couple of weeks after the incident. As time passes, it can be helpful to continue donating money and supplies, committing to helping physically rebuild structures and promoting fundraising efforts.

Find more ways to help those in need at eLivingToday.com.

Staying Safe Through a Hurricane 

While the immense power of hurricanes and tropical storms can greatly affect the lives of many in an instant, there are ways to increase your safety before, during and after the storm. These tips from the American Red Cross can help protect yourself and your family.

Before

  • Put together an emergency kit, including basic but crucial items such as: water, food, a first aid kit, cell phones with chargers, contact information for family and friends, flashlights, extra batteries, medications, radios, copies of key personal documents, extra cash and maps.
  • Working with your family, create an evacuation plan for your home. This includes discussing how to prepare and respond to emergencies, identifying the responsibilities of each person in the home and practicing the plan.
  • As a storm is approaching, stay tuned to local radio or TV stations for the latest updates.
  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly, and ensure that your emergency kit and other necessities are ready.

During

  • Stay inside.
  • If power is lost, use flashlights in the dark rather than candles.
  • If possible, keep radio or TV stations tuned in for any new or developing information.
  • Because waters could be contaminated with sewage or contain other dangerous substances, avoid contact with floodwater.
  • If instructed to do so by local authorities, shut off the power and water mains.
  • If you must be outdoors, don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Don’t walk on beaches or riverbanks, and don’t allow children to play in or near floodwater.
  • Stay out of areas subject to flooding, such as underpasses, dips and low spots.
  • If you must drive and are caught on a flooded road with rising waters, get out of the car and move to higher ground.

After

  • Communicate with family and friends to let them know you’re safe.
  • If you are evacuated, don’t return until authorities confirm it is safe to do so.
  • Continue listening to radio or TV stations for new or developing information.
  • Be prepared for continued rainfall and additional flooding.
  • Don’t use water that could be contaminated.
  • If possible, help friends, family and neighbors who require assistance, especially the elderly, people without transportation, large families and people with disabilities.
  • When returning home, stay away from buildings that have water around them.
  • Stay away from dangling power lines and report them to power companies.
  • For insurance purposes, take pictures of home and item damage.
  • When cleaning your home, wear protective clothing like rubber gloves and boots, and be cautious.
  • Inquire with professionals to check for roof damage and other more technical tasks.

(Family Features)

6 Simple Steps to Avoid Distracted Driving

Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.

More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don’t yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.

Distracted driving isn’t just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.

Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted-driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using mobile phones while driving on company time.

In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. Cargill’s Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.

“I had to try the policy myself first,” says MacLennan. “Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company.”

Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.

1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you’re on the road.

2. DND
If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.

3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.

4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.

5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over “cellphone stops” along your route if needed.

6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren’t the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.

Driving safely should be everyone’s top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you’ve arrived, safely, at your destination. (BPT)

5 Hassle-Free Tips for Protecting Your Child’s Valuables at School

From phones and tablets, to computers and headphones, technology has quickly become an integral component within the daily lives of students of all ages.

A departure from the contents of students’ backpacks as little as 10 years ago, these pieces of technology have, on the one hand, made students’ lives easier — including communication and access to necessary information — but also have made the cargo in their bags much more valuable and, consequently, attractive to potential thieves.

Low-level theft is an unfortunate reality for schools across the nation. In fact, a recent study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that more students experience incidents of theft and violence at school than away from school. The crime rate works out to roughly 33 victimizations per 1,000 students at school per year. And with backpacks carrying more expensive tech, these thefts at school have left more at stake for students.

To make sure your child’s valuable electronics, books and other essentials are safely stored away this school year, the security solutions experts at Master Lock have collected a handful of easy-to-follow safety measures to protect the belongings students — and their parents — value most.

* Is it necessary: A natural first step in helping to protect your child’s valuable belongings is to establish if the item is a must-have in school. While they might love their new tablet, so might potential thieves. Having an open discussion about responsibility and what’s necessary will go a long way in keeping their belongings safe.

* Quick change: By the time they hit middle school, many students are required to navigate the halls between classes with speed. To make sure they are not late to class while still securing their belongings, try the Master Lock Speed Dial Padlock. With up/down/left/right directional movements, the Master Lock Speed Dial Padlock provides students unparalleled quickness and convenience when opening their lockers in-between periods.

* Security on-the-move: Depending on the age, juggling a phone, keys, debit cards and other small valuables is a reality for many students walking the halls at school or paths on campus. The Master Lock Portable Personal Safe is an ideal solution for students looking to securely lock up their belongings between classes or in their dorms at college.

* Hide in plain sight: Larger electronics such as laptops, tablets and cameras can often come with their own carrying cases, and when thieves are looking for an item to steal, they look for the cases themselves, trusting the contents will be inside. To help protect your student’s possessions, mix it up and find some other bag or transportation method to house their tech. If thieves don’t see your student walking around with the case in their hands, they’ll be less likely to realize there is something for them to steal.
* No key, no problem: While protecting from unwanted intruders, securely locking up a locker at school or in gym class can also accidentally keep out the owners themselves due to a forgotten combination or lost key. Master Lock’s award-winning Indoor Bluetooth Padlock offers students a new way to keep their items safe via a Bluetooth-enabled padlock which turns their phones into the key. This eliminates the hassle of a forgotten combination and gives students a lock only they or authorized users can open.

As your child heads back to school this fall, following these simple safety tips can help ensure their valuables don’t fall into the wrong hands. To learn more about protecting your child’s belongings at school with the innovative security solutions from Master Lock, visit Masterlock.com/personal-use/school-gym-health-club. (BPT)

Is Your Family Expanding? Protect What Matters Most With These Nursery Safety Checks

You may have chosen the perfect color palette and all of your nursery furniture, but have you thought about some key safety checks?

“The arrival of a baby means you have to take a look at your home in a whole new light,” said Tarsila Wey, marketing director for First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety. “Take the time now to help ensure your home is safe and secure.”

First Alert has outlined some crucial tasks to accomplish before the little one makes his or her appearance:

Maintain crib safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of children’s deaths under the age of one are caused by suffocation. Make sure that, when prepping the nursery, the crib meets safety standards, and avoid loose bedding or soft toys in the crib. After the baby arrives, the infant should sleep alone and be placed on his or her back on a firm surface.

Check your smoke alarms

Smoke alarms help protect your family, but in order to do so the alarms need to be present — and working. Install a working smoke alarm in the nursery and ensure that the rest of the home is properly equipped. The National Fire Protection Association recommends smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

Residential smoke alarms need to be replaced at least every 10 years. To find out whether it’s time to replace the smoke alarms in your home, simply look on the back of the alarms where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase or installation).

Protect from the “Silent Killer”

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without an alarm. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year. Standard CO alarms are designed to alert people to high levels of CO (30-70 parts per million), which can be fatal.

However, lower levels of CO have also been proven to be harmful to infants. Fully protect your newborn from both high and low levels of CO with the Onelink by First Alert Environment Monitor, which provides protection for those most vulnerable to CO levels as low as 9 parts per million, and peace of mind for parents. Compatible with Apple HomeKit and Alexa Skills, it also monitors temperature and humidity, and notifies users of changing conditions.

Update the escape plan

It is important to plan and practice an escape plan for your home in the event of a fire. According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households has actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. This is even more important with the addition of a new member to your family. As a family, walk through the home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Identify two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. For the second story, place escape ladders near windows, and practice setting it up so you’ll be able to use it correctly and quickly in an emergency. Make sure everyone understands the plan, with special attention to carrying the newborn. Choose an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from your home, and make sure to practice your escape plan twice a year — and before the baby comes.

Create an emergency call list

Even though everything we need is on our smartphones these days, when a babysitter or nanny is with your infant, they might not be as prepared in case of an emergency — and you might not be either! Having an emergency contact list readily available can potentially save time and make everything go a little more smoothly when there is a crisis. Make sure the list includes family numbers, poison control, non-emergency numbers for police and fire departments, and neighbors’ phone numbers.

To learn more about fire and carbon monoxide safety and the Onelink Environment Monitor, visit FirstAlert.com or FirstAlert.com/Onelink. (BPT)

Preparing for Baby

4 tips for choosing the right car seat 

As a parent, one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing an infant car seat. The process of purchasing and correctly installing a car seat can often feel like an overwhelming task.

To help give parents that extra layer of confidence they need before baby’s first car ride home from the hospital, the safety experts at Car Seats for the Littles offer these tips for proper car seat installation and car seat use.

Keep Children 2 Years and Younger Rear-Facing

Babies have heavy heads and fragile necks. The neck bones are flexible and the ligaments are loose to allow for growth. When a child rides rear-facing, his or her whole body is cradled by the back of the safety seat in the event of a crash, which is why you want to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping your baby rear-facing until at least 2 years old. 

Ensure Correct Car Seat Installation

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 49 percent of infant car seats are installed incorrectly. Faulty installation can result in preventable injuries, so it’s important the infant car seat is properly installed. First, ensure the car seat you purchase works in your vehicle and read the manufacturer’s instruction manual. A car seat with a simple installation process, like the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 DLX Infant Car Seat, can help eliminate some of the installation guesswork. The base offers hassle-free installation using either the vehicle’s seat belt or a Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. In three simple steps, parents will hear an audible “click” and feel confident the car seat has been securely installed. This seat also features a four-position, one-hand adjustable recline with an easy-to-read bubble level indicator to determine the proper recline level. Find more information at gracobaby.com. 

Properly Position Newborns in Car Seats

Be sure the newborn’s bottom is all the way back with no space behind him or her and that the child isn’t slouching. Additionally, check to make sure the seat is sufficiently reclined to prevent the baby’s head from falling to his or her chest and potentially blocking the airway.

Test for Proper Installation and Security

Before placing baby in a car seat, perform the “1-inch test.” Give the seat a firm shake at the belt path with your non-dominant hand. If the seat or base moves less than 1 inch, the installation is secure. Once baby is properly positioned in the seat, make sure the harness straps are properly tightened using the pinch test. With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, your child is properly secured.

One of the most cautious drives you’ll ever take is the first one home from the hospital, but with the right infant car seat, proper research and installation practice, you can feel more confident from the moment you leave the hospital and every drive after. (Family Features)

Sharing The Road With School Buses

As originally published at Geico.com.

We’ve all been there – caught up in the morning rush when suddenly we find ourselves behind a school bus. Naturally, frustration can get the best of us when we’re in a hurry, but having a little patience can go a long way – and save lives. Instead of trying to pass the bus at the first opportunity, keep these tips in mind that can help keep everyone safe on the road.

Reminders for drivers

Stay alert for flashing lights on a bus – School buses flash yellow lights to warn drivers of an impending stop. Drivers should treat yellow flashing lights the same as a yellow stop light, and decrease their speed to prepare to stop as well.

Prepare to stop when you see red – DO NOT PASS when the lights are flashing red because the bus has stopped to pick up students that may be crossing from the other side of the road. Unless the bus in on a divided highway, all traffic should stop to allow the bus to load or unload students.

It’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus flashing red – Laws in all 50 states forbid cars from passing a school bus that has red flashing lights on and its stop sign extended, yet a 2015 survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) estimates more than 78,000 vehicles illegally pass buses on any given day. If you’re caught illegally passing a bus, it’ll make a dent in your wallet – fines can often run a couple hundred dollars and could add several points to your license.

The cops don’t have to enforce the law either – Twelve states (and counting …) have begun equipping buses with cameras to photograph license plates of offenders who then receive a citation in the mail.

School buses stop frequently – Maintain a safe following distance of at least 2-3 seconds. This habit helps you better anticipate stops, and allows for more reaction time if children are trying to cross the street.

Safety tips for students

Be ready before the bus comes – Running to catch the bus could potentially jeopardize your safety because most drivers don’t expect to see a person dart out in the street.

Give the smart device a break – Talking on the phone or listening to music while walking to the bus stop means you won’t be fully aware of your surroundings. You’ll have plenty of time to jam out and browse Instagram once you grab a seat. Stay a safe distance away from the street while you’re waiting for the bus to come, and wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before approaching to climb aboard.

If drivers make an extra effort to share the road and drive defensively, and students stay mindful of traffic around, everyone will have safer travels throughout the school year.

Drive Away Distractions to Protect Teens Behind the Wheel

Today’s teens face more distractions than any generation before.

Many don’t recall a time when they were not continuously connected to their friends. Cell phones – which might have been provided as a safety precaution in case Mom or Dad was running late picking them up from school – are now the source of constant messaging, sharing and media consumption.

Teens send texts instead of passing notes in class. They share moments with their peers and the world in the form of photos and short videos. Music, food and transportation can arrive on demand, all with the swipe of a finger. Being away from their phones, even for a short period of time, can even cause a form of separation anxiety expressed in the acronym FOMO (fear of missing out).

So it should come as no surprise that cell phone use is the offense most commonly associated with distracted driving. However, it’s not the only type of distraction.

“A lot of people think they’re better drivers than they actually are, which is why they take unnecessary risks when they’re behind the wheel,” said Randy Petro, chief claims officer for Mercury Insurance. “We see a lot of claims related to distracted driving, including parents turning to scold arguing children, adjusting the infotainment system, and even taking photos while driving. Your first priority once you start piloting any vehicle should be to focus on the task at hand – driving.”

Ten percent of all drivers ages 15 to 19 who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA also reports that 660,000 people drive distracted every day.

Teens aren’t the only ones who feel the need to be connected – adults are guilty of it, too.

Many of the teens who are glued to their smartphones have witnessed their parents answering emails at the dinner table or have seen them shoot a “quick text” while driving. Teens have grown up learning that this type of behavior is acceptable and maybe even expected. However, there’s a right time and a right place for everything.

“The first thing parents need to do is practice what they preach. Teenagers won’t always be receptive to ‘because I say so’ or ‘because I’m the adult,’ especially if they witness their parents actively engaging in a behavior they’re being told is bad,” adds Petro. “We as adults need to set a proper example – after all, we do have the advantage of more life experience.”

Parents should set a powerful example by committing not to drive distracted if they want their children to do the same. If necessary, parents can also invest in technology to monitor and disable phones while their teens are driving to eliminate the temptation altogether.

“No Instagram post, bite of a burger or playlist selection is worth someone else’s life. People are mainly in a car to get from point A to point B, and our wish is for them to do it safely,” says Petro.

There are several excellent online resources that provide tips and information to help prepare teens for life behind the wheel, including Mercury Insurance’s Drive Safe Challenge and NHTSA’s Distraction.gov.