The goal of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 17-23) is to make sure all children are secured properly in appropriate seats – every trip, every time. Parents and caregivers are urged to make sure their child safety seats and booster seats are properly installed and used in their vehicles.
Child safety seats work best when used correctly but roughly 3 out of 4 child safety seats are not used correctly. When properly installed, child safety seats and booster seats save lives – offering the best protection for children in the event of a crash.
Consider the following statistics:
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children 1 to 12 years old.
- Child safety seats reduce the likelihood of an infant (under 1 year old) being killed in a vehicle crash by 71 percent, and reduce the likelihood of death to toddlers (1 to 4 years old) by 54 percent.
- Children ages 4 through 7 who use booster seats are 45 percent less likely to be injured in car crashes than children who are restrained only by seat belts.
“Most of the installs I see just need small adjustments: getting the car seat snug with the seat belt or LATCH system or adjusting the harnesses on the child,” says Reed Richmond, Health Educator and a Child Passenger Safety Technician at Richland Public Health. “We do need to put more emphasis on the tether strap being an important part of a forward-facing seat install. And I encourage parents not to rush through the stages but check the weight limits listed on the side of the seats.”
For maximum child passenger safety, follow these recommendations:
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.
- To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. Here are the guidelines:
- Birth – 12 months – Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
- 1 – 3 years – Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
- 4 – 7 years – Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
- 8 – 12 years – Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there. Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
Richland Public Health’s CPS Technician can assist with installations. For more information on Child Passenger Safety see the car seat information at www.richlandhealth.org (type “Car Seat” in the search box for fastest access) or call Richland Public Health at 419-774-4500.
The national website for CPS information is https://www.safercar.gov/parents/carseats/Car-Seat-Safety.htm
Richland Public Health