Invention of car safety feature like airbags was a boon to people. Ever since airbags were fitted to the cars they would have saved tens of thousands of lives for sure.
Most cars today come fitted with a couple of airbags in the front seat for the driver and his passenger. While sedans and some premium hatches offer these as standard equipment, they come as optional for a price in all cars (almost) today. It should be learnt that airbags are also referred to as SRS or SRS airbags which mean Supplementary Restraint Systems because these are features designed to enhance the protection which seatbelts offer.
The airbags in the front operate when a severe frontal collision happens. The crash sensors (impact sensors) sense impact and the sudden slow down of the car or sudden application of brakes and send a signal to airbag (the inflator) and the airbags are inflated immediately with gas. In fact the inflation occurs at a rate faster than even the blink of the eyes (obviously it has to be) with some force and starts deflating instantly in controlled fashion so that the impact gets cushioned.
The SRS airbags are a new thing especially in India, and people do not have an idea as to how they can be useful during crashes. But several studies have shown that airbags reduce the frequency of injury to the head of drivers.
That being said when the airbags inflate they do so very quickly (as said) with some force, and the speed of inflation itself is viewed as a danger, but this can lead to small injuries including bruising and abrasions and some burns, however, these are inevitable minor injuries you have to endure to save a threat to your life which could have occurred had there not been airbags. But there could be serious and fatal injuries even if airbags are present if you do not comply with some do's.
Always wear your seatbelt.
Seat yourself at least 10 inches away from the steer wheel (it is where the airbags are deployed), while giving yourself enough room to have a safe control of your car.
If your car has adjustable steering wheel, have it tilted downwards which makes the airbag point to your chest not your head, however ensure that you see the instrument panel.
Never have anything fit to the dashboard near the airbag.
Also when you have a child seated encourage him/her to be properly seated all the time. If the child isn't properly seated or fixed the inflation of airbag will pose a danger to the child and there are instances when child was even killed by inflated airbag.
Have the seatbelt properly and tightly fixed to the child. You as a parent help the child to fix the seatbelt and have the child seated within the safe distance from the airbag.
In general it is a safe bet to have the child (under age 13) seated in the rear seat. But if that is not possible guide the child by properly buckling the seatbelt and have him/her sit back and sit as upright as possible.
Finally, promptly go for airbag/s replacement when it is called for: If the airbag of your car needs a replacement, have it done by the manufacturer only. Have it also fitted in accordance to the instructions given by the car manufacturer. Do not go in for pre-owned airbag modules for they may not be functioning in accordance to manufacturer's specifications and may not offer level of protection they otherwise should, still worse may even pose a danger to the occupants. They sure are expensive but are meant to save a life, so they are worth.