The best way to keep your child safe in the car is to use the right car seat in the right way. Here are some car seat safety tips to protect your most precious cargo.
Hard Facts about Safety in Cars
- Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States.
- Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.
- 73% of car seats are not used or installed correctly
Choose the Right Direction: Rear- or Forward-Facing
• For the best protection, keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat until 2 years old or more. You can find the exact height and weight limit on the side or back of your car seat. Kids who ride in rear-facing seats have the best protection for the head, neck and spine. It is especially important for rear-facing children to ride a back seat away from the airbag.
• When your children outgrow a rear-facing seat after age 2, move them to a forward-facing car seat. Keep the seat in the back and make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors (LATCH). Use the top tether at all times. Top tethers greatly reduce your car seat’s forward motion in a crash.
• Kids can remain in some forward-facing car seats until they’re 65 pounds or more depending on the car seat limits. Check labels to find the exact measurements for your seat. Discontinue use of lower attachment when your child reaches the limits set by your car seat and car manufacturers. Continue to use the top tether. You must read both manuals to know about those limits. Not to worry: Once your child meets the lower anchor weight limits, you will switch to a seat belt. Seat belts are designed and tested to protect all adults as well as children in car seats and booster seats.
Check Car Seat Labels
• Look at the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height.
• Your car seat has an expiration date. Find and double-check the label to make sure it’s still safe. Discard a seat that is expired in a dark trash bag so that it cannot be pulled from the trash and reused.
Know Your Car Seat’s History
• Buy a used car seat only if you know its full crash history. That means you must buy it from someone you know, not from a thrift store or over the internet. Once a car seat has been in a crash, or is expired, it needs to be replaced.
Is it Time for a Booster Seat?
• Take the next step to a booster seat when you answer “yes” to any of these questions:
• Does your child exceed the forward-facing car seat’s height or weight limits?
• Are your child’s shoulders above the forward-facing car seat’s top harness slots?
• Are the tops of your child’s ears above the top of the car seat?
• If the forward-facing car seat with a harness still fits, and your child is within the weight or height limits, continue to use it until it is outgrown. It provides more protection than a booster seat or seat belt for a small child.
Be Wary of Toys
• Toys can injure your child in a crash, so be extra careful to choose ones that are soft and will not hurt your child. Secure loose objects and toys to protect everyone in the car.
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