What to Look for in a Family Vehicle


Every parent makes tough decisions that impact the entire family, and choosing the right car is no exception. Whether driving to and from after-school activities or planning a road trip, a reliable family car is crucial. But with so many makes and models to choose from, it’s good to have a process to help make a smart and safe purchase that pleases everyone — from the auto enthusiast dad to the little ones in the backseat.

You have to consider safety, reliability, handling, economy, and a range of personal preferences when choosing a family car. Experts from AutoTrader.com offer the following overview on popular family friendly models, including minivans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and sedans.

SUVs – Attractive, roomy, sturdy, powerful, and responsive, these vehicles have been a popular choice in recent years.


  • Often sit up higher, an ideal feature for improved all-around visibility
  • Often equipped with four-wheel or all-wheel drive to handle different terrains
  • Typically feature family-friendly bonuses, such as rear-seat DVD players and enough cup holders for the entire family


  • Can be gas guzzlers
  • More prone to rollovers, leading to safety concerns
  • High thresholds may lead to trouble loading items into some SUVs

Minivans – When they first appeared on the scene before SUVs took the stage, minivans were the ultimate family vehicle choice — and are making a comeback.


  • Less likely than SUVs to roll over in a crash
  • Often include built-in crumple zones to help absorb the impact and protect passengers
  • Roomy for passengers and allow a great deal of cargo space
  • Often equipped with automatic sliding doors, which lessens the stress of loading the car while holding a child
  • Low threshold makes it easier to remove car seats and load groceries


  • Generally have a lower resale value than an SUV

Family Sedans – As gas prices rise, so do the attractiveness and sales of sedans — especially smaller, more gas-friendly ones.


  • With a smaller size, family members can be within reach of the driver
  • Include perks like affordability and nimble handling
  • Can offer better gas mileage than most SUVs and minivans


  • Storage space can be more limited

Other Factors Parents Should Consider when Looking for a Car:

  • Size and activity level of a family. Are family members involved in extracurricular activities or sports with equipment that requires more storage space or will the car primarily be used as a means to get from Point A to Point B? Does the car need to be large enough to fit everyone and everything inside or will a more economical sedan suffice?
  • Safety. Parents should take note of important features with which a family car should come equipped, such as electronic stability control, side airbags, anti-lock braking systems, and tire pressure monitoring systems. When you are looking at specific models, if you choose an SUV for your family car, look for responsive mid-size models with excellent crash test ratings, or consider a crossover, which combines the safety of minivans with the sleek features of a traditional SUV.
  • Personal preferences and convenience. Personal preferences, such as cargo area size and ease of car seat installation, vary for each parent and absolutely important to consider when looking at different cars. Parents may also want to consider factors that make things more convenient when it comes to children, such as dark upholstery (for spills and messes), keyless entry (when you are juggling kids and other items), and a LATCH system, which makes installing car seats easier and safer.

Visit www.AutoTrader.com to learn more.

What do you look for in a family car? Any tips for families who are shopping for a new car?

Fireworks Safety


Each Independence Day, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks — devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death. Consider the following facts.

  • The risk of fireworks injury was two-and-a-half times as high for children ages 5-9 or 10-14 as for the general population.
  • On Independence Day in a typical year, more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
  • In 2006, fireworks caused an estimated 32,600 reported fires, including 1,700 total structure fires, 600 vehicle fires, and 30,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 6 civilian deaths, 70 civilian injuries and $34 million in direct property damage.
  • In 2007, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,800 people for fireworks related injuries; 56 percent of 2007 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 36 percent were to the head.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a member of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, a group of health and safety organizations, coordinated by National Fire Protection Association, that urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and instead, to enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.

Do you see fireworks displays each year as part of your Independence Day festivities?

Lawnmower Safety

62.lawnmower.jpgUsing a lawn mower is as routine as bike riding or barbeques during summer months. But people can find themselves in terrifying situations with these seemingly safe household machines. In fact, 200,000 people – 16,000 of them children – are injured in lawn mower-related accidents each year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports. Most injuries are caused by careless use and can be prevented by following a few simple safety tips.
“Power lawn mowers are dangerous adult tools, but many children, and sometimes adults unfortunately, see them as toys,” said ASPS President John Canady, MD. “Lawn mowing can be dangerous to the operator as well as those nearby if proper safety precautions aren’t taken.”
The following tips will help prevent lawn mower-related injuries:

  • Children should be at least 12 years old before they operate any lawn mower and at least 16 years old for a ride-on mower.
  • Children should never be passengers on ride-on mowers.
  • Always wear sturdy shoes while mowing – not sandals.
  • Young children should be at a safe distance from the mowing area.
  • Pick up stones, toys, and debris first from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
  • Always wear eye and hearing protection.
  • Use a mower with a control that stops it from moving forward if the handle is released.
  • Never pull backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary – always look for others behind you when you do.
  • Start and refuel mowers outdoors – not in a garage. Refuel with the motor turned off and cool.
  • Blade settings should be set by an adult only.
  • Wait for blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel roads. (As a safety feature, some newer models have a blade/brake clutch that stops the blade each time the operator releases the handle.)

To read the AAP policy statement, “Lawn Mower-Related Injuries to Children,” click here.

This information is sponsored by a coalition of the following organizations: American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons (ASMS), the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), and the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM).

What chores do you involve your children in during the summer?

Fun in the Sun — Safely!

56_Child-with-sunscreen.jpgDo you remember what if feels like to be sunburned? Miserable! That memory of the pain of sunburn is enough to remind me to slather on the sunscreen when I know I am going to be out in the sun for prolonged periods of time. However, I am occasionally reminded that sunburns can happen anytime of year and even on cloudy days. I forgot the sunscreen once this baseball season on what started out as a cloudy, rainy day. By the end of the game I had gotten my share of sun!

As you head outside this summer, here are some sun safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for your kids:

Babies Under 6 Months

  • Avoid sun exposure and dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn.
  • When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of suncreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands.
  • If an infant gets sunburn, apply cold compresses to the affected area.

For Young Children

  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  • The SPF should be at least 15 and protect against UVA and UVB rays.

For Older Children

  • The first, and best, line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays), and cotton clothing with a tight weave.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours — between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen — about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

How do you plan to have fun in the sun this summer?

Guard Against Sports Injuries

AAP banner.jpgIt’s that time of year again when the weather is getting warmer and kids are filling soccer fields and baseball diamonds for spring sports. Do you know how to prevent sports injuries in your kids? Here are some great tips brought to you by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Injury Risks
All sports have a risk of injury. In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of injury.

Most injuries occur to ligaments (connect bones together), tendons (connect muscles to bones) and muscles. Only about 5 percent of sports injuries involve broken bones. However, the areas where bones grow in children are at more risk of injury during the rapid phases of growth. In a growing child, point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if minimal swelling or limitation in motion is appreciated.

Most frequent sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments) and strains (injuries to muscles), caused when an abnormal stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. As always, contact your pediatrician if you have additional questions or concerns.

To reduce injury:
•    Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will protect them from performing more dangerous or risky activities.
•    Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises before games and during practice strengthens muscles used in play.
•    Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility.
•    Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.
•    Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
•    Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and body checking (ice hockey) should be enforced.
•    Stop the activity if there is pain.
•    Avoid heat injury. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 pediatricians focused on the care of children. Check out their great Parenting Corner for the latest medical information for your child.

Are your kids playing a sport this spring?

Latest Product Recall Information

27_cpscbanner3.jpgYesterday the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,
in cooperation with Infantino, announced a voluntary
recall of the following products: Lil’ Chef Set, Activity Stacker, and Tag Along Chime Trio.
The infant toys have blue metallic fabric that can detach from the toy, posing a choking hazard to young children. Consumers should stop using
recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.
The firm has received 45 reports of the metallic fabric detaching from the toys. No injuries have been reported. Visit the CPSC Web site for the complete recall information.

Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall site for complete recall information and safety information for all types of products. You can find information on over 4,000 product recalls and recall alerts through their search engine and RSS feeds. You can also sign up for the latest recalls delivered directly to your inbox through e-mails blasts.

What other Web sites do you regularly visit that provide helpful information for parents?