Recently, I visited Mineral, a town in Louisa County, Virginia, where in conjunction with Child Passenger Safety Week, the County Sheriff’s Department was providing free Booster Seat Checks at a weekend fall festival to interested parents and caregivers of young children. All over the United States, SafeKids Coalitions offer this free service by people who are trained to perform booster seat checks to make driving with children as safe as possible!
Do you know that every person on every car ride needs to use a car seat, booster seat, or safety belt that’s right for his or her weight and height? Infants from birth to at least age 1 and 20 lbs. need to use a rear-facing car seat properly placed in the back seat of the vehicle each time a baby rides. Since your baby is weighed every time you visit your pediatrician or family doctor, keeping track of your baby’s weight will help you select and use the right car seat for your baby’s height and weight.
Placement of your baby’s car seat is important too! The car seat must not move more than 1 inch side to side or front to back. Locate the frontal air bags in your vehicle (by checking your car’s owner’s manual) and never place the rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag.
Make sure to read your car or booster seat’s instructions and use the car’s safety belt or LATCH system to lock the car seat in place in the car. Grabbing the car seat at the safety belt or LATCH path is one way to test the seat’s placement. Make sure the car seat’s harnesses are through the slots and even with or below the infant’s shoulders. The harness should be tight enough that you cannot pinch extra webbing at the shoulder. The chest clip should be adjusted to the child’s armpit level.
All children under age 13 are advised to ride in the back seat. Children from 40 to 80 pounds and up to 100 pounds need to use a booster seat correctly in the back seat on each car ride. Toddlers, older than age 1 and weighing more than 20 pounds can use a forward-facing car seat, again in the back seat, every time the toddler rides in the car. A child is too big for a booster seat when their shoulders are above the top slots, the tops of the ears are above the back of the seat or the weight limit is exceeded. Then you will need to graduate the child to a taller car seat or booster seat. Many children will outgrow the harness of a forward-facing car seat at age 4 or 5.
As a good role model for your children, www.childsafetyblog.org encourages you to wear your safety belt and make sure all the occupants of your vehicles wear safety belts correctly every time you drive, ride, or transport others.
If you want to learn more about Child Passenger Safety, please visit www.usa.safekids.org
Also please check out this very good video about the importance of getting a Booster Seat Check on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW2E-idJOGk Call your local area law enforcement or your state’s Division of Motor Vehicles’ office to learn where and when you can get a car/booster seat check to keep your kids safe!
And until next time, have a safe week!