Car Seat Safety

With four children dying in car crashes every day, the right kind of car seat can often mean the difference between life and death

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Christmas is a time when we all travel to destinations far and wide for that fulfilling meal and gift opening, and we want to make sure our little ones are safely tucked away during those long trips. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their recommendations on car seats for children.

Doctors now say kids should remain rear-facing as long as possible, even past their second birthday. Parents should make the switch when children reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.

Studies show rear-facing is the safest way to ride, because the head, neck and spine are supported by the seat. If in an accident in a forward-facing seat, the child can suffer serious head and neck injuries as they are whiplashed back and forth.

According to saferide4kids.com, four children dying in car crashes every day, so the right kind of car seat can often mean the difference between life and death.

As far as proper car seat installation – ensure that the harness is snug. You won’t be able to pinch any slack between your fingers when testing the harness straps over the child’s shoulders. The harness chest clip is placed at the center of the chest, even with the child’s armpits. Then make sure the car seat is installed tightly in the vehicle with either the latch or a locked seat belt. You shouldn’t be able to move it more than one inch left to right or front to back at that belt path.

Something else to keep in mind before you bundle up your little one in a winter coat – car seat manufacturers say these bulky items make it impossible to secure kids properly in their seats. Instead, you can put the coat on backwards and preheat your car.

Always check the bottom of the car seat for an expiration date. And remember that a car seat cannot be used if it has been in an accident, even if it looks okay. Also, fill out and send in the car set registration in case of any recalls. Always make sure to read the manual before installing the seat.

Debbie Hilt with Early Childhood Connections says, “Read through the manual … or read the car manual because your car manual has some information in it also.”

Early Childhood Development provides car seats for foster parents as well as those who are on financial assistance. If you have questions on how to install a car seat or related questions, Debbie suggests going to www.safekids.org for information and referrals.

Experts say that all children should remain in the back seat until the age of 13 and that they should be in a booster seat until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly.

Categories: Local News