Posts Tagged ‘ car seats ’

How a Tape Measure and a Scale Could Save Your Kid’s Life

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for children 4 to 10 years old. Buckling a child safely into a car seat or booster seat can dramatically reduce the risk of  serious injury, yet 9 in 10 parents are switching their kids from boosters to seatbelt-only restraints before the children are big enough to be safe sans booster, according to a new survey from Safe Kids Worldwide and the General Motors Foundation. (Disclosure: I sit on the board of Safe Kids Worldwide, so this issue is especially near to my heart.)

Here’s where the tape measure and scale come in:  Seven in 10 parents surveyed didn’t know that a child should be at least 57″ tall (4’9″) to ride in a car without a booster seat. So pull out your measuring device and check your child’s height before you yield to his appeal to ditch the booster. Weigh him too: Your child should also be at least 80 pounds before going boosterless. Lots of children won’t hit these marks until they are 11 or even older according to this info from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Check your child’s stats even if you previously reviewed your state’s booster regulations (rules vary from state to state). Many states don’t require boosters after age 7, much less until age 11. These are also among the states with the highest rates of motor vehicle fatalities among kids ages 4 to 8. (I’m talking to you, Montana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kentucky.)

Carpools are particularly worrisome, according to the Safe Kids Worldwide report. Anyone who even occasionally shuttles around extra kids should keep a spare booster in their trunk. I sometimes find that my own child is out of the booster zone but we ferry a friend who is not. Indeed, one in five parents in the survey said they bend the rules when carpooling.

Of course all this is moot if you don’t buckle your kid up in the first place, and an astounding one in three fatalities in 2012 happened when a child was completely unbuckled during a crash. So let’s all resolve to buckle our kids, every time. And if you have younger children who are still in a car seat (as opposed to a booster) it’s a good idea to check to make sure the seat is installed properly. This Saturday is National Seat Check Saturday, so take a moment to review these safety smarts. And visit Safe Kids to find out where you can get guidance from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician on proper installation of your seat.

Keep your kid safe no matter where they are with our Parents’ Home Safety Guidelines.

Car Seat Installation Tips
Car Seat Installation Tips
Car Seat Installation Tips

Photograph: MikhailSh via Shutterstock

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The New Car-Seat Rules

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced two changes designed to boost car seat safety. One has an immediate impact on how parents should be installing their child-safety seat. One won’t affect you or your kid for a few years (by which time he may be in a booster). Both are welcome developments in reducing the risk factor for serious injuries.

First, effective immediately all new car seats must state on the label that the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system should only be used when the total weight of the child and seat is 65 pounds or less. Above that weight, the anchors may not effectively restrain a car seat in case of a sudden stop or an accident. The solution is easy: When the total weight exceeds that figure, use the car’s seat belt as an anchor. The same guideline holds for whatever seat you’re currently using. Since many safety seats are bigger and heavier these days, it’s important to weigh yours (and your child) and crunch the numbers.

Federal regulators also plan to implement a new rule requiring child seats to withstand side-impact collisions of up to 30 mph. The new crash test will begin as early as this spring, complementing the front-impact tests that are already conducted on all car seats. Manufacturers will have three years to comply with the new standard, though hopefully many will do so sooner. NHTSA estimates that the cost of extra padding and/or wider wings will be a mere 50 cents per seat and will prevent 5 deaths and 64 injuries annually—a more than worthwhile tradeoff.

For now, your smartest move is to make sure your current seat is installed properly. That’s not as simple than it sounds: Three out of four car seats are installed improperly. See if your local police or fire station has a certified inspector on site who can walk you through the process. Or check out these videos on installing a car seat and avoiding a potentially tragic mistake.

How To Install A Car Seat
How To Install A Car Seat
How To Install A Car Seat

Avoid a Car-Seat Mistake
Avoid a Car-Seat Mistake
Avoid a Car-Seat Mistake

Ready to replace your old seat? Shop for a new one here.

Baby in a safety car seat via Shutterstock

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