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September 20, 2010

National Child Passenger Safety Week - Get Your Car Seat Inspected

Did you know that three out of four child safety seats are improperly installed in vehicles according to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration? That's why we urge all parents and caregivers to attend the annual “National Seat Check Saturday,” on Saturday September 25 in their local area. As part of National Child Passenger Safety Week (September 19-25) many communities will have certified technicians available to provide free on-site child safety seat inspections. Check your local area for times and availability.

It’s the responsibility of every parent and caregiver out there to make sure their children are safely restrained – every trip, every time. We're urging everyone to get their child safety seats inspected. When it comes to the safety of a child, there's no room for mistakes.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research, 8,959 lives of children under age 5 have been saved by the proper use of child restraints during the past 30 years. In 2008, among children under 5, an estimated 244 lives were saved by child restraint use. Research shows that child restraints provide the best protection for all children up to age 8; after age 8 seat belts provide the best protection.

For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should refer to the following 4 Steps for Kids guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on age and size:

1. For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds.

2. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at least age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

3. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).

4. When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult seat belts in the back seat, if they fit properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).

Need additional help when buying a safety seat? Check out our recent article "Six Tips for Buying the Right Child Car Seat." And for even more info, try "Six Quick Resources for Infant Car Seat Info."

If you'd like to ask questions live, join the Twitter party hosted by @childseatsafety on Wednesday, September 22 at 2pm EST.

For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week, a national effort to remind parents and caregivers of the lifesaving effect child safety seats have in protecting young children, please visit nhtsa.gov.

By Becky Scott, contributor


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