Couldn’t resist the pun in the title. So we’re talking again about child safety seats. Why? Because they’re really important. There are few things that a parent or caregiver can do to keep a child safe that are more effective than placing that child in a properly installed child safety seat. For earlier posts about child seats and how they work, you can go here and here.
A lot of progress has been made in reducing deaths and injuries to children by publicizing the correct use of child safety seats, booster seats and safety belts. But we can do more. We appreciate the time and attention the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and others advocating for child passenger safety have devoted to this important cause, but more work needs to be done to protect children who ride in cars in safety seats.
The NHTSA says 3 out of 4 car seats are not properly used or installed and that 3 out of every 4 children in child safety seats are not properly secured, or are not restrained at all.
As a parent, do you know how to use the Safety Seat correctly? Some parents are not sure how to install their child’s safety seat properly. It’s important for parents to know that not every seat fits every car. Also, some parents don’t know their vehicle (if manufactured after September 2002) is required to be equipped with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system.
NHTSA says, “LATCH makes it easier to get the child seat in right.” And NHTSA has several video demonstrations on their website (with instructions in both English and Spanish) which you can view! Go here to view.
We know as a parent or caregiver, you want to protect your children the best way possible, and using the LATCH system is one way to help.
Another way is to learn which kind of seat is best and safest to use for your children: NHTSA says, “for infants (from birth to at least 1 year old or at least 20 pounds), the best possible protection is to place them in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats.”
When children outgrow rear-facing seats (when they are older than one year old and weigh more than 20 pounds), they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, still in the back seat, until they reach an upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).
Always check the child safety seat instruction manual of the brand of child safety seat you have. Every safety seat manufacturer provides specific instructions to the proper installation and use of their brand of child safety seat.
Finally, if as a parent or caregiver you are still not sure whether your child safety seat is properly installed, you can take your vehicle to a Child Safety Seat Inspection Station. If you need help locating a child safety seat inspection station near you, you can call the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 (Vehicle Safety Hotline) or you can jump to this link. Enter your zip code or state, and a list of child safety seat inspection stations in your area or state will be displayed. Some stations have bilingual speakers and some stations inspect by appointment only. You may want to call ahead!
With grateful thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
To write NHTSA and obtain more information on Child Safety Seats, please contact them at:
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590