“We didn’t have car seats when you were growing up and you’re fine!” How many times have you heard that phrase come out of your parents’ mouths? As The Safety Mom, and more importantly a parent, it makes me CRAZY! According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about 9,310 children have been saved from 1975-2009 by the use of child restraints. Image how much higher that number would be, if all children were properly restrained. To help bring awareness to the importance of properly securing children, September 18-24 has been designated Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week.
When selecting a car seat for your little one, you must take three things into consideration: their age, weight, and height. For maximum security, it is suggested to keep your children in car seats for as long as they can fit within the height and weight requirements. Most recently the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised their recommendations to rear facing up to two years of age. All 50 states have laws that require child safety seats for infants and children fitting certain criteria, failure to abide by these laws results in fines and in some states, points on your license.
A few other important tips regarding car seats:
- The top buckle should be fastened at chest level, even with their armpits
- You should be able to fit no more than a small pinky finger between the strap and your child
- Car seats have an expiration date! This information is listed on a sticker on the car seat but is generally 5 years
According to the NHTSA, about 75% of child safety seats are used or installed improperly, exposing children to a higher risk of serious injury or death in a car crash. It’s often extremely difficult to get a car seat fastened securely which causes a great deal of frustration. There is, however, a great new infant car seat on the market, the Prodigy by Summer Infant www.summerinfant.com . It’s the first car seat to alert parents when it’s installed correctly. It has smart screen technology that provides clear, step-by-step installation instructions and advises when each step is done right.
Child Passenger Safety Week concludes on September 24, with National Seat Check Saturday. All parents and caregivers can get their car seats inspected to be sure they’re installed properly, free of charge, by certified child passenger safety technicians.
For more information about Child Passenger Safety Week and to find your closest child car seat inspection station, you can visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS.