As a parent, you will spend a lifetime worrying about their children and how to keep them safe. Don’t run with scissors. Wear a helmet while biking. Make good choices. But the first place you should start protecting your kids is in the backseat of your vehicle with the proper selection and use of a car seat.
According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), nearly 250,000 children are injured every year in car crashes. Children make up about 5% of total fatalities due to car crashes and motor vehicle crashes, which according to the NCSA, are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 2 and 14.
Your Child’s Car Seat Must Be the Right Size
Car seats when used properly save lives.There are available resources to help determine the best car seat for your child’s size and weight. In April 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new recommendations on car seats and booster seats for children. The AAP now advises parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age two, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for the car seat. They also advise children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age. The AAP offers a car seat guide with these new criteria.
Your Child’s Car Seat Must Be Installed Correctly
Each time you choose the best car seat or booster seat for your child, it is critical you install it properly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study at least 72% of the 3,500 observed child vehicle safety restraints were being used incorrectly.The NHTSA estimates that a properly installed and used child safety seat lowers a child’s risk of death by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4.
The NHTSA has developed a rating system for car seats based on ease of use, using a five star system. While all car seats meet Federal Safety Standards, this rating system helps you choose a seat based on how easy it is to install, read the instructions, secure your child and use the on-seat labels.
The NHTSA website also lists car seat inspection stations and events where you can have a trained professional install your car seat and ensure it is being used correctly. When your child travels in another vehicle, make sure this information goes with the car seat.
Do a little research and make sure you know the latest safety recommendations. Safe driving and proper restraints will help protect your little one.