Child passenger safety week
Keeping children safe is an important part of being a parent or caretaker. Child Passenger Safety Week, September 23-29, is a good time to remember that caring for children goes beyond fixing them nutritious meals, getting them ready for school and encouraging their interests. Child care also includes making sure children are safe while they are traveling in motor vehicles.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported some shocking statistics in relation to child safety and motor vehicles; in particular, injuries from motor collisions are a leading cause of unintentional death for children under the age of 12. Additionally, it’s reported that of children under the age of 12 who died in a crash, 35 percent weren’t buckled up or restrained. Finally, the study goes on to say that in one year, over 618,000 children were allowed to ride in a vehicle without the appropriate safety seat or seat belt at least some of the time.
Child safety seats can do a lot to protect children from injury and fatality. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, the proper use of safety seats has a tremendous impact, especially among infants (reducing fatal injury by 71 percent) and young children ages four through eight (reducing fatal injury by 45 percent).
Knowing that the proper use of safety seats and restraints can greatly increase the likelihood of survival during a crash, here are a few important facts to keep in mind about child passenger safety:
- Infants and children through at least the age of two should always be in a rear-facing safety seat.
- If you need help installing a seat properly into your vehicle, find a child passenger safety technician (CPST) and get assistance. Safe Kids Worldwide is the certifying body for CPSTs, and they offer car seat checkup events, or can connect parents with a technician.
- Straps and harnesses should clip at the center of the chest, not above or below.
- Make sure the child is wearing thin clothing so that the harness remains firmly in place during a crash. Bulky clothes can allow straps to slip and become loose during an accident. If the weather is cold, place a blanket over the child once they are already strapped in as opposed to buckling straps over a thick coat or sweater.
- Forward-facing car seats can be used for children who meet the height and weight requirement, typically between 40-90 pounds.
- Booster seats should be used for children who meet the height and weight requirement and have outgrown a forward-facing seat. This is typically children ages eight through 12 years of age.
- Children age 12 and under should always ride in the back seat.
- A regular seat belt can be used if the child meets the height and weight requirements, and the belt should fit low across the hips, not across the stomach. Additionally, the diagonal portion should hit across the middle of the chest. The child must be tall enough for their knees to bend comfortably over the edge of the seat while sitting all the way back.
- Do not allow children to tuck the belt under their arm or behind their back as this adjustment will not provide the proper restraint needed in the event of a crash.
Proper use of child safety seats and restraints can make a huge impact on reducing injury and fatality in the event of a collision. Take time during Child Passenger Safety Week to inspect your child’s motor vehicle safety system. If needed, reach out to a certified professional, like a CPST, for help. Last but not least—drive safely!