Car Seat Safety

Do you ever stop and think if you are doing everything you can to keep your child as safe as possible, especially while riding in the car? The number one killer of kids is automobile crashes. Use the following as helpful tips on car seat safety when dealing with infants, toddlers, and children.

Let’s start off by exploring the proper safety seat. Child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, ages 1-4. However, there are many different types of safety seats for you to choose from and it is important that you completley understand how to properly position and strap in your child according to their age group.

Pennsylvania state laws state that children under 4 years of age must be in a child safety seat and children 4-8 years of age must be placed in a booster seat. Therefore, let’s start off talking about infant safety seats.

There are two different types of infant seats, infant-only seats and convertible seats. Infant-only seats are small, have carrying handles, and are used for travel only.

Seven out of 10 kids in child safety seats are not properly buckled in. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants should ride rear-facing and they should remain riding that way until the highest weight or height allowed by their car saftey seat’s manufactuerer. These seats should be used until the infant is between 22 to 35 pounds, depending on the model.

Convertible seats can be used rear-facing and then “converted” to forward-facing for older children. The seats tend to be bulkier than infant-only seats, but do not typically come with carrying handles.

Convertible seats have two types of harnesses: 5-point and overhead shield. The 5-point harness attaches at the shoulders, hips, and between the legs. The overhead shield harness is a padded tray-like shield that swings down over the child. Either harness is acceptable as long as you stay within the safety seat requirements.

Next, let’s discuss the toddlers/preschoolers safety seats. After your child has reached the highest height and weight allowed by the manufactuerer of the seat rear-facing, your child will be ready to start riding forward-facing.

There are five different saftey restraints that can be used for forward-facing seats. These include the convertible seat, forward-facing only seat, combination seat with harness, built-in seats, and travel vests.

Because we already discussed the convertible seat, let’s move on to the forward-facing only seat.

These seats can be used forward-facing with a harness for children who weigh up to 40 to 80 pounds. The combination seat with harness are forward-facing seats that also use a harness for children weighing between 40 and 80 pounds, but it can also be used without the harness as a booster for children weighing 80 to 100 pounds.

Built in seats are forward-facing seats already built into some vehicles. Weight and height limits may very so it is best to look through your vehicle’s owner manuel to be as safe as possible.

Lastly, travel vests can be worn by children between 20 and 168 pounds and can be an alternative for traditonal forward-faing seats. They become very useful when a vehicle has lap-only seat belts in the rear or for children whose weight has exceeded that allowed by car safety seats.

As children have a way of doing, they will continue to grow quickly. When your child has fully grown out of a safety seat it will be time to get them a booster seat. A booster seat is recommended for children who are at least 4 years of age. The seat is designed to raise your child up so that the lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly.

More information on car safety can be found by visiting popular web sites, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.nhtsa.gov or www.seatcheck.org.

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