Thursday, October 7, 2010

Children's Car Seat Safety Guide

Even though most parents understand the need for using a car seat in their younger children, many children are still unnecessarily injured in car accidents. Among the factors that contribute to these preventable injuries are car seats used incorrectly or not used at all, children being placed in the wrong type of car seat, and moving children out of a car seat or booster and into regular seat belts at too early an age.

General Car Seat Safety Tips:

All children under 13 years of age should be placed in the back seat of the car, especially if you have passenger side air bags.

Infants should be in a rear-facing infant only seat or convertible seat until they are at least 12 months old and twenty pounds (minimum recommendation), although it is likely safest to continue rear-facing until they reach the weight and height limits of their car seat. Children who reach twenty pounds before their first birthday still need to face backwards and can be moved into a rear-facing convertible seat with higher weight and height limits.

After they are twenty pounds and have passed their first birthday, toddlers can use a forward-facing car seat until they are about 40 pounds or their ears have reached the top of the car seat. Keep in mind that it is likely best to ride in a harnessed seat as long as possible if you have a seat with a harness that has higher weight and height limits.

Children over forty pounds and four years of age can usually be placed into a belt positioning booster seat, although it is usually best to ride in a seat with harness straps as long as possible if you have one with high weight and height limits.

You should not use your car's regular seat belts without a booster seat until they fit correctly when your child is 8 to 12 years old, unless he or she is already 4'9".

Your child will not be ready to use regular seat belts until the shoulder strap fits across his shoulder and not his neck, and the lap belt fits across his hips and not his stomach.

Be sure to read the car seat manufacture's instructions and your car owner's manual to be sure that you are installing and using the car seat correctly.