The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is promoting National Child Passenger Safety week, Sept. 17-23, 2017. They focus on marketing campaigns aimed at parents and caregivers of children at each stage of development and appropriate car seat safety.
Since seat belt laws were established in 1975, passenger deaths of children younger than 13 have declined considerably but car accidents are still responsible for one out of every four unintentional injury deaths in this age range. The majority of these deaths occur when the child is traveling as a passenger in a vehicle which emphasizes the importance of proper safety restraints. Restraining children in rear seats instead of front seats, for example, reduces the fatal injury risk by almost 75 percent for children up to age three, and by almost 50 percent for children aged four to eight.
Whatever your child’s age, these tips from Parent’s Central will help caregivers choose the safest possible seat or seat belt for their child:
- All car seats must follow the minimum safety standards established by the Federal Government so the price of the car seat doesn’t necessarily make it safer. Choose a car seat based on your child’s age and size and one that fits well in your vehicle.
- Washington State car seat law specifically states to follow the car seat manufacturer’s instructions for installation and weight and height limits. Also read your vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or car seat tether system if available.
- Schedule an appointment with your local fire fighter station to have them check that your seat is properly installed.
Reduce child passenger deaths with appropriate car seat safety
Infant car seat safety from birth – 12 months:
All infants should be in a rear-facing car seat from birth to 12 months old. Caregivers can pick from two different types of car seats:
- Infant-only bucket seats. These seats click into a base that is strapped into the car and can be removed with infant strapped inside.
- Convertible/all-in-one car seats start rear facing with newborn inserts and can eventually be converted to forward facing and booster seats. This type of car seat usually has a higher height and weight limit for rear-facing than infant only seats.
Convertible car seat safety for toddlers 12 months – 3 years:
Do not be in a rush to face your toddler forward at 12 months! For their safety children should remain in rear-facing convertible car seats until they have outgrown the weight or height limits of the seat allowed by the manufacturer; preferably until they are at least two years old.
Forward-facing car seats or convertible car seats faced forward are appropriate for toddlers aged two – three years once they have outgrown the rear-facing car seat.
Booster seat safety for kids aged 4 – 7:
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until he or she outgrows the seat. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat’s weight and height limits allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer, transition your child into a high-back booster seat in the back seat of the vehicle. The high back ensures that the shoulder strap is properly positioned across the child’s shoulder and chest.
Seat belt safety for tweens 8 – 13:
Once your child has outgrown the weight and height limits of the booster seat or is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly (typically when the child has reached 4’9” tall) your child is ready to use the regular seat belt. Ensure that the lap belt lies snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach and that the shoulder strap fits snugly across the shoulder and chest, not across the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old because it’s safer there.
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