Keeping your baby safe while on the go this Labor Day Weekend

Posted at 8:18 AM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 08:18:49-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It's estimated 1 million travelers will be using Michigan roads this holiday weekend, heading out on what is one of the busiest travel weekends. In fact, the National Safety Council is estimating more than 400 traffic fatalities will occur nationwide this weekend alone.

This year, the holiday falls at the start of Baby Safety Month, and experts say it's important to focus on your baby's safety before you hit the road.

Injury prevention specialist Jennifer Hoekstra of Spectrum Health says infant and child seats are the things parents get wrong most often in regards to child safety in the car. In face, she says 96 percent of parents use car seats incorrectly. That misuse could lead to injury or even death.

Hoekstra says the biggest thing parents do wrong with child seats is they make the straps too loose. "What we utilize is the pinch test: you want to make sure, with your thumb and your first finger, that you can't gather access material at the child’s shoulders."

Rear facing straps must be at or below shoulder level. Make sure the chest clip is across your child's breast bone and even with their armpits. Children younger than two must face the rear of the vehicle in their car seat. That position will protect their spine, head and neck during a crash.

But safety concerns don't stop there.

"When you go to people’s homes for the weekend, don't assume they have a safe place for your baby to sleep," Hoekstra said. So bring along your own setup, such as a Pack 'N Play, to make sure your child has their own sleeping space with a hard surface where there are no soft pillows, loose blankets or sheets.

If your travels take you to a location where you're unsure about the environment, Hoekstra suggests doing some research or calling ahead so you know if there are available pieces you can request or rent.

"It's important to think about all of the pieces of the weekend before you take off, so when you get to your destination it will be all about the fun and family time you're having together, and there won’t be injuries waiting to happen."