Did you know that every 33 seconds a child under 13 is involved in a car crash in the United States? That probably isn’t the first thing you think about when you are hauling your kids to school, the grocery store, or anywhere else around town. And really, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not your child is safely snuggled into the right car seat every time you get in the car. Instead, make sure your child is in the right seat from the get-go.
Child Passenger Safety Week (September 17-23, 2017) is a great time to brush up on car seat safety tips and make sure your child is in the right seat, with the right fit and installation.
During Child Passenger Safety Week, more than 1000 events are expected in 45 states across the country to raise awareness for proper car seat installation and usage. The week culminates in “Seat Check Saturday,” where Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will help parents and caregivers make sure their car seats are installed correctly. In most cases, this service is FREE.
Car Seat Safety Tips:
- Check age and size: Find a car seat that fits your child. As children grow, how they fit in their car seat will change. Make sure the car seat you purchase is designed to fit your child’s current size and age and allows room for growth.
- Read the manual: Before installing your car seat in your vehicle and putting your child in the car seat, read the manufacturer’s instructions so you know how your car seat works.
- Test it in your car: Not all car seats fit in all vehicles so test the car seat you plan to buy to make sure it fits correctly in your vehicle.
- Register it: Register your car seat and booster seat at NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat so you will be informed if there is a safety recall on your model.
- All-in-one Seats: “All-in-one” seats can be a great option for your child as they grow. They offer you the advantage of using the same seat for the following positions: rear-facing, forward-facing with harness, then booster seat. These 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, which safety experts strongly recommend.
- Get it checked: Be certain you’ve installed your car seat correctly by having it checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. Bring the car seat instructions AND the vehicle owner’s manual with you to a car seat inspection appointment!
- General age guidelines: Remember, the best car seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use, and fits in your vehicle correctly. The information here can help you choose the right seat for your child. Keep in mind that:
- Children under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
- Children ages 1-3 should be kept in a rear-facing seat until they reach the car seat’s top height or weight limit.
- Keep your child in the back seat until at least age 13.
If you need help- there are always resources available. I know that my local hospital does Car Seat Safety Checks once a month. I’m grateful for resources like NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat, which has videos about how to install car seats and booster seats correctly and guides to picking the right seat by age and size.
Here’s a video that has been helpful for me:
The right car seat can make all the difference in a crash. Car seats, if used correctly, can dramatically reduce the risk of death or injury. But over half of car seats are either installed or used incorrectly, and 1 in 3 children killed in car crashes in 2015 was not in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt at the time of the crash.
To make sure you have the right seat for your child, visit NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat, or find a Child Passenger Safety Week event in your area. During Child Passenger Safety Week, many communities will have Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians on-hand to provide education on how to use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts for children. To find events near you, including free car seat checks, visit bit.ly/CPSTech.
*According to 2015 data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).