Rewind to .... Car Seat Safety

Posted by  | Monday, June 22, 2009  at 7:00 AM  
This was originally posted by me (Christina) back in 2007. As I was thinking about which posts to include in our "rewind" week - I immediately thought of this one. Lately I've seen many parents (some friends of mine) using their carseats improperly. I often don't say anything for fear of coming across the wrong way - everyone knows that I'm slightly obsessive about carseats. I hope this post will serve as a reminder to check and DOUBLE CHECK how you're using your carseat. The bottom line is that all carseats can be safe, but only if they're installed and used properly!

To update - we did keep my son rear facing until he was about 21 months old. At 36 months old, he is still in a five-point harness, the Britax Regent. My daughter is still rear facing at 15 months and 22 pounds.

One more note...the AAP updated its recommendations in April of 2009 to say that toddlers should remain rear facing until age 2. (Previously, it was AT LEAST age 1) They still recommend children rear face as long as possible - which can be well into age 3 with the right seat.

Here is the (slightly abbreviated) post:

According the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), there were 38,588 fatal crashes in 2006. The likelihood of your family being involved in a serious car accident is high enough to warrant paying close attention to car seat safety. The following post will hopefully give you a summary of important points, along with links to equip you with the facts necessary to be sure your child is as safe as possible when riding in the car.

The following points were taken from the NHTSA's website about Child Passenger Safety. I have added the bold type to emphasize points that are often overlooked. I have also added some comments of my own in RED type.

Child Safety Seats Save Lives

  • Child seats reduce the likelihood of an infant (under 1 year old) being killed in a vehicle crash by 71 percent and toddlers (1-4 years old) by 54 percent.
  • Children ages 4 to 7 who use booster seats are 59 percent less likely to be injured in a car crash than children who are restrained only by a seat belt, according to a study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
  • While 98 percent of America’s infants and 89 percent of children ages 1 to 3 are now regularly restrained, not enough children ages 4 through 7 are restrained properly for their size and age. Restraint use among 4-7 year olds is 78 percent.
  • The National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS) found that only 41 percent of children ages 4 to 8 are riding in booster seats; NHTSA recommends that children who have outgrown their child safety seats should ride in booster seats until they are at least eight years old, unless they are 4’9” tall.
  • Child restraints work best if you use them correctly. Failure to read the child safety seat instructions, in addition to vehicle owner manual instructions regarding installation, could result in serious injury or death as a result of a failure of the child safety seat to be securely and/or properly restrained.
  • The three most common mistakes in installing a child safety seat are (1) not attaching the seat correctly and tightly to the car or truck, (2) not fastening the harness tightly enough, and (3) not using the chest clip or using it incorrectly. Keep in mind that you should check your car seats installation every so often as well. They can loosen over time!
  • All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring children to be restrained in cars. Make sure you know the laws of your state and make it the law of your car. Please remember laws are usually the minimum requirements for safety.

Child Restraint Tips

  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 a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds. There are rear-facing car seats available to allow children to rear face up to 33 pounds, maybe even higher.
  1. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum 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). Again, there are car seats available to allow children to remain in 5 point harnesses forward facing well beyond 40 pounds. Ours goes to 65 pounds. I know of at least another one that goes to 85 pounds!
  1. 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).
  1. When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest.

Here are some videos that show the importance of REAR FACING.

Another video with more crash tests

Lastly, some links to more information. Feel free to post any additional questions, recommendations or experiences you might have as well!

CPS Safety website - good summary of information

NHTSA's ease of use ratings - they rate each car seat in several areas.

Child Safety Seat Inspection Stations
- Search by zip code for locations to get these checked! Keep in mind most fire stations (not all though!) do this, but there are other locations as well.

American Academy of Pediatrics Car Seat Guide - Despite the fact that many pediatricians often give misleading car seat advice (mine included), the American Academy recommends rear facing as long as possible. This is a great link!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

I am also pretty obsessive about car seats. We attended a car seat safety class when we were expecting our first, and we learned there that 4 out of 5 car seats are either installed incorrectly, or parents are not buckling children into them correctly. (The first time a friend of ours watched me tighten the straps on our infant car seat she gasped and said, "That's too tight, you're going to hurt him!" What an excellent - and gentle - opportunity to let her know that she wasn't using her own car seat straps properly.)

For those looking for 5-point harnesses above 40 pounds, Graco now makes a less expensive alternative to the Britax. The model is called the Nautilus, and I got mine at Wal-Mart for around $140.

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