If you've ever accidentally locked your toddler -- and your keys -- in the car, you might curse child-proof locks. But if you have a toddler who spends his time trying to escape the car ride by pulling on the door handle, you might bless them. Most cars sold in the United States have some type of child-proof lock. In most cases, you must activate the lock by pushing a button.
Finding the Activator
The best place to look for information about your particular car's safety features is in the manual, but if you haven't seen the manual since the dog chewed it up out of anxiety on the way to the vet's office, the information is still available. You can find many car manuals online; if not, the car dealership might be able to dig one up for you. If those sources fail you, search for an Internet car site for motorheads who drive your type of car. In general, the childproof safety locks are found on the doors to the backseat of most cars, and they can be activated by moving buttons, tabs or levers into a locked or unlocked position while the door is open. Other cars have a button up front to engage the child safety locks.
Hitting the Buttons
Child proof safety locks on car doors are generally easy to operate, but most cars require you to open the car door from the outside to disengage the lock. This is a good feature if you have an escape artist who can remove his car seat harness and hit the parking lot before you can get your door open. It might be more of a nuisance if you have older kids who get out of the car by themselves to go into school, but what better way to keep them captive in the car until you're done talking to them?
If you accidentally lock your keys in the car with your kid, your toddler or preschooler can't unlock the door next to him by reaching over and hitting the button or by pulling the handle up. Since the lock prevents your child from opening the door, you'll need to call the police to jimmy your car door open if you don't have a spare key hidden somewhere. In an accident where the airbag deploys, the child-proof locks will disengage, in some cars. If they don't, your child could have a hard time getting out of the car.
Having Locks Installed
Having child-proof locks installed if your car doesn't have them isn't a do-it-yourself job. You'll have to take the car to the dealer and, even then, the locks can't be installed on all makes of cars.