Did you know that car crashes are the leading cause of death in children? The importance of making sure your child rides safely in a vehicle cannot be overstated. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Every 32 seconds in 2017, one child under the age of 13 in a passenger vehicle was involved in a crash. Many times, injuries and deaths can be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts.”
Each year in September, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration emphasizes the importance of car seats for children during Child Passenger Safety Week. It’s required by law in all 50 states that all infants and small children be properly restrained when riding in a passenger vehicle. Child safety seats have been proven to greatly reduce the risk of fatality or major injury when involved in a car accident.
Choosing a Car Seat
Choosing the correct car seat for your child is an important first step in keeping them safe. When shopping for a car seat keep the following in mind:
You should select a car seat that is best suited to your child’s weight, height, and age
The best car seat is not always the most expensive one
Be cautious about used car seat and make sure that the seat has never been involved in a crash, is less than 6 years old, and is not currently expired
Complete the product registrations so you can keep up to date on any recalls
Types of Car Seats
There are 3 kinds of car seats and it’s important to choose the right one for your child’s age, weight, and height.
Intended for newborns and can be used up until the child’s head is within 2 inches of the top of the safety seat. These safety seats are easily removable from the car and often clip into stroller systems, can be taken inside, and make it easy to tote your newborn around.
Designed for newborns through children weighing up to 40 pounds if rear-facing, 65-80 pounds if forward-facing. It’s important to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible until they exceed the height and/or weight restrictions set by the manufacturer. Convertible car seats are often heavy and not very portable.
Forward-facing car seats are intended for children weighing from 20 to upwards of 80 pounds. If your child has outgrown their rear-facing car seat, they should continue to be in a forward-facing car seat until they exceed the height and/or weight limitations set by the manufacturer. Booster seats are considered forward-facing car seats.
Kids After Car Seats
Kids who have outgrown their car seats are safest in the backseat and when properly wearing a seatbelt. It is discouraged to allow children under the age of 12 to sit in the front seat due to the risk of injury should the airbags deploy during a collision. If your child must sit in the front seat, temporarily disable the passenger-side airbags if your vehicle comes equipped with that capability. Airbags were designed to deploy with a force of up to 200 miles per hour to protect a 165-pound adult during a vehicle accident. This force could cause serious injury to children and could result in neck and head injuries.
*Never place a child in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat if the car has passenger-side airbags.