There are so many car seat styles and varieties available now that it is more confusing than ever to choose the one that fits your child best. Once you do choose one, they can be tricky to install. You may find you are uncertain about whether or not you’ve done it correctly. Perhaps you had no trouble at all with the infant seat you used, but it is time to install a larger one in your vehicle to fit a growing toddler or older child.
September 12 – 18 is National Child Passenger Safety Week, when all parents are reminded of the importance of reviewing the safety seat guidelines and being sure the appropriate seat is being used in the correct manner for each child. Saturday is the nationwide kick-off, with auto dealerships and police departments are offering inspections and instruction for parents at multiple locations.
This event happens each year in an effort battle the number one killer of children from age 3 to 14, motor vehicle accidents. It’s reported that proper use of an approved child safety seat can prevent accident-related fatalities more than 60% of the time.
More than one third of child passengers are not currently placed in the proper seat for their age, height and weight, which increases the likelihood of severe injury or death.
In studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as many as three out of four seats were not properly installed. Improper installation increases the chances of injury or death.
The following rules regarding child safety seats should be strictly followed to ensure the safety of your child according to the NHTSA:
1. Keep infants in the back seat, in a rear-facing child safety seat as long as possible, up to the height and weight limit of the seat and at least until the infant reaches 1 year of age andweighs at least 20 pounds.
2. Young children, over 1-year-od and weighing more than 20 pounds should ride facing forward in a car seat, located in the back seat, until they reach 4 years of age andweigh 40 pounds or more
3. Once children outgrow their car seats, usually at 4 years and 40 pounds, they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the seat belts fit properly.
4. Seat belts can be used in the back seat when they fit properly meaning that the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest, generally this is at age 8 and a height of 4 feet 9 inches.
5. All children younger than 13 should ride in the rear seat of the vehicle with a seat and shoulder belt.
Take the opportunity this week to review the safety seat you are using for your child. Visit an inspection center available in your area or take advantage of local information phone banks. You may also visit the NHTSA website to find information on inspection locations in your area.
Most importantly, use the proper safety system for your child for every car ride they take, no matter how short. Keep in mind that many accidents happen very close to home, so always observe child safety seat guidelines to protect your children.