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Protecting Your Child in Your Car

carseatsThe statistics are frightening.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that more than 1,000 children under the age of 12 die in passenger car accidents every year.  And more than 100,000 are injured.  (In fact, it’s the leading cause of death of children between the ages of 3 and 14 in the United States.) Yet while these losses and injuries can’t all be prevented, parents can certainly help to reduce the risk by properly securing them in the back seat.

 

The types of restraints needed depend on the age and the size of the child.  Here’s a quick overview:

 

•Rear-facing car seat: appropriate for infants and young children up to around 2 years of age (a guideline only). (Video)

 

 •Forward-facing car seats: for children who have outgrown their rear-facing seats.  They should remain in forward facing seats in the back seat until they reach the weight/height limits of the seat.  While some have weight limits of 40 pounds, many now will go up to 65 and even 85 pounds. (Video)

 

 •Booster seats: When children have outgrown restraining car seats, they should use belt-positioning booster seats until adult seat belts fit properly, usually when a child reaches 4 feet 9 inches and 80 pounds. (Video)

        

 •Adult belts: Children should use boosters until adult seat belts fit properly. The lap belt should rest across the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt should fit snugly across the center of the shoulder. Again, children should sit in the back seat whenever possible.  If the front seat is the only option, move the seat back as far as possible and never let the child sit forward at the edge of the seat. (Video)

 

All 50 states have legal requirements for car seats. Compliance extends beyond “use”; the seat must also be properly secured.  To be confident that you are installing your car seat correctly, make an appointment at a local Child Car Seat Inspection Stations. In most situations, a certified inspector will inspect your child safety seat, free of charge. (Play it safe and call before visiting. Many inspection stations require an appointment.)  And if you think the inspection isn’t necessary, just consider one thing: you child’s life could depend on it. (Not to mention that fines for improper installation can be steep. )

 

 The Department of Motor Vehicles has a great page packed with information and links to other valuable sites focused on how to pick a car seat.  You can find it at: http://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/buying-child-seat.php

 

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