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Sitting Pretty
 Child Safety Seats

March 2005 Issue
Get Moving
Exercise and Kids
Play in the Mud
Basic Pottery for Kids

Sitting Pretty
Child Safety Seats
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Recognizing Attention-Deficit Disorder
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Things have certainly changed over the past few decades when it comes to ensuring car safety for infants and children. Thankfully, the days of unrestrained children climbing back and forth over car seats and crawling on the floor of a vehicle are long gone.

The car is a potentially dangerous place for adults as well as children when an impact is involved. The National Safe Kids Campaign states that motor vehicle crashes are the leading killer of children under the age of fourteen. They add that a properly used child safety seat reduces the risk of death by seventy-one percent for rear-facing infants and fifty-four percent for forward-facing toddlers.

No matter what the means of transport (family car, taxi, carpool, or rental car) all children under forty pounds are required to be restrained in an appropriate child safety seat. Larger kids should be in booster seats until they are eight years old or approximately five feet tall. 

The National Safe Kids Campaign adds the following guidelines for transporting a child in a vehicle: 

  • Children twelve and under should be properly restrained in the back seat.
  • Infants should ride in rear-facing safety seats as long as possible; until they are at least twelve months old and weigh at least twenty pounds.
  • Children who are at least one-year-old, weigh twenty to forty pounds, and can no longer ride rear-facing, should ride in forward-facing child safety seats.
  • Children over forty pounds should be correctly secured in belt positioning boosters or other appropriate child restraints until the adult lap and shoulder belts fit correctly (around eight years of age).
  • Once the vehicle safety belts fit children properly, both lap and shoulder belts should be used correctly.
  • Any safety seat must be installed and used according to the manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

The National Safe Kids Campaign advises that the use of second-hand seats should be avoided, since there is no guarantee of the condition of the seat. The used seat may have been in a previous crash or may have been recalled (and original labels/tags identifying the seat may be missing).

Because there are so many models of cars and child safety seats, there is no one specific correct way to install a safety seat. Follow both the instructions supplied with your new safety seat and those found in the owner’s manual of your vehicle.

Many regional health departments, hospitals and police stations periodically conduct inspections of safety seat installations. Take advantage of this public service to verify that your seat is installed properly before transporting your child.   

Make sure safety seats are available for every child in every vehicle. Grandparents, relatives and any other caregivers should be well-educated on proper child safety seat installation and usage, so that your child is safe at all times.

If you are expecting a baby and are having problems finding or affording a child safety seat, contact your local health department. Many regions have special programs that provide child safety seats at a reduced cost.

Americans spend a great deal of time on the road with children in tow—make sure every mile traveled is a safe one!

Source: National Safe Kids Campaign website; www.safekids.org; January 31, 2005.


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