Cruising with the windows down is one of summer’s greatest simple pleasures. But if you’ve got kiddos in the back seat, don’t forget to stay alert when you roll them back up.
Power windows can cause injury if little fingers, hands or limbs are in the way. Injuries can be more serious – or even fatal – if the window closes on a child’s head or neck. A 2007 study estimated that 2,000 people each year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries from power windows, and half of those are children.
As a parent, here are 4 things you should know:
1. Power windows can exert an upward force of 30-80 pounds.
For context, it takes just 22 pounds of force to injure or suffocate an infant, according to kidsandcars.org. What’s more, the force needed to push a button to roll up a power window is a mere two pounds.
2. Some window switches are safer than others.
Newer cars will have the safest type – “lever” style, which have to be pulled up to raise a car window. They are mounted vertically and harder to activate by accident. (In 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made these mandatory for all U.S.-manufactured vehicles.)
If you have an older car (pre-2006), watch out for these styles mounted horizontally on the door’s armrest – they’re easier for children (or you!) to hit by mistake:
- Rocker switches are rectangular, and move the glass up when you press one short end and down when you press the other.
- Toggle switches move the window when pushed forward or pulled back.
3. Look before you close
Before you roll up your windows, make sure the path is clear. Many injuries happen, unfortunately, when adults simply forget to check on kids in the backseat first.
4. A little prevention goes a long way.
First things first: If your car has a backseat window lock, use it!
Also, talk to your kids. Teach them never to play with window switches, stand on passenger door arm rests, or stick their heads out of a car window.
Finally, if you’re not in the driver’s seat, make sure to take the keys out when you leave. Leaving the ignition in the “on” or “accessory” position leaves the power window switches activated.
Looking for more information about keeping children safe in cars? Read more from Erie Insurance about family road trip safety.