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September 14th-20th is National Child Passenger Safety Week. Motor vehicle accidents are the number 1 cause of death in children 12 years and younger. Most of the time death and serious injuries can be prevented by using the correct car seat for your child. Children ages 2-5 years old that use a seat belt before they are big enough are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury compared to children in a proper car seat.
Knowing the correct car seat to use for your child can be hard to tell since it is based off of age and size. This link can help determine which seat is the safest from rear-facing seats to just a seat belt. Children from birth to 3 years old may require a rear-facing car seat. The next step up is a forward facing seat that can be suitable for children anywhere from 2-7 years old. When your child outgrows the forward facing seat, they should use a booster seat until they can properly fit into a seat belt.
Installing the car seat properly is just as important as having the correct seat. Read the manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully. Place the car seat in the back seat and secure it. It should not be able to move front-to-back or side-to-side more than 1 inch when pulled at the belt path. For rear-facing seats, make sure the correct recline angle is used, most seats are labeled to determine the correct angle. For forward-facing seats, connect it to the tether strap and be sure it is tightened to limit movement during an accident.
When your child is in the car seat, the straps should lie flat and be placed at a slot at or above your child’s shoulders. The straps are tight enough when extra material cannot be pinched near the shoulders. The chest clip should be at armpit level of your child.
When using a car seat, be sure to choose the right direction. Always check the label for child’s age, weight, and seat’s expiration date. Don’t buy a used car seat unless you are 100% positive it has not been in a wreck. They need to be replaced after a collision. Always make sure the seat is installed properly and checked periodically. Passengers and the driver should always wear a seat belts in case of an accident. However, the driver should set a good example by always putting it on right when they get in the car.
You are the key to making sure your family and passengers are safe on the road. Take time this week to check your child’s car seat to make sure it is working properly and is the right fit.