HERSHEY – We would never intentionally put our children at risk. Yet, that’s exactly what happens when we don’t take the time to properly restrain our kids in our vehicles. This is Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 16-22), and a good time to remind parents that child safety seats and booster seats only work best when they are used correctly. It is so important for people to get their child’s seats checked. When it comes to the safety of a child, there is no room for mistakes.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research, 7,000 lives have been saved by the proper use of child restraints during the past 20 years. In 2005 alone, among children under age 5, an estimated 420 lives were saved by child restraint use. Research on the effectiveness of child restraints shows that these devices provide the best protection for all children up to age 8.
For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers are encouraged to follow “Four Steps for Kids,” a guideline 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 for at least one year and at least until they weigh 20 pounds. Ideally, they should remain in this seat/position for as long as they are within the height or weight limit of the particular seat.
2. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, 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 or 40 pounds).
3. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats, they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly.
4. When children outgrow their booster seats (usually around age 8 or when they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall), they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).
5. All adults riding in the car need to wear a seat belt every time, and no drinking and driving.
For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week or other ways to be safe while traveling in vehicles, please visit here.