Learning About Car Seats Saves Lives
PINEVILLE — Traffic injuries are the leading cause of preventable injury and death for children in the U.S., but seat belts save lives. Buckling a child in the right car seat that is the right size and is installed correctly can help reduce her risk of death by as much as 71 percent, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
“As a child, I remember sitting in my mom’s lap in the car, napping in the back window and laying in the floorboard during long drives,” said administrator Paige Behm. “Today, we would never dream of letting our kids do that. We know they need to be safely buckled into car seats.”
There are so many different brands of car seats, parents may feel confused or overwhelmed. The good news is that all car seats have to meet the same federal safety standards.
There are three main types of car seats, rearfacing, front-facing and booster seats.
Rear-facing seats are the first seat your infant will use, and should last until he is about 40 pounds, or 2 years old.
Front-facing seats work best for children that are at least 2 years old and have grown larger than the height or weight limit on their rear-facing seat.
Booster seats are for kids who have outgrown the front-facing seat, but are not yet 8 years old or 80 pounds. The seat raises the child up so the adult lap and shoulder seat belt fits correctly.
Before buying a car seat, parents should look at the label for the weight, height and age limits and should choose a seat that best matches the child.
“It may be tempting to try to save money by buying a used car seat,” says Behm, “but never buy a used car seat unless you know its full history. If a car seat has been in a traffic crash, has missing parts, or has been recalled, it will not be safe for your child.”
Behm adds that a good car seat only works to protect a child if it is installed correctly and if the child is buckled in the right way every time. Safe Kids Worldwide offers tips on how to safely buckle a child into a car seat at www.safekids. org/car-seat.
The Health Department has a certified car seat technician on site to help parents and grandparents learn how to safely install a car seat. The Health Department also offers free car seats to eligible families.