SPRINGFIELD, Mo—Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. The best way to protect your child is with a car seat, but with so many on the market, it can be difficult to choose one and install it correctly.
That’s why the Mercy Injury Prevention Center, lead agency for Safe Kids Springfield, is hosting Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kohl’s on Independence Road in Springfield. The free event is part of Child Passenger Safety Week. Certified technicians will check car seats for proper installation and give advice on choosing the right seat for your child.
“You can never predict what other drivers might do or how the weather can change the safety of a roadway,” said Daphne Greenlee, Safe Kids coordinator and trauma outreach coordinator for Mercy Springfield. “The best way to protect your kids is to put them in the right car seats for their age and size and use those seats correctly on every trip, every time.”
Crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for 2010 shows among children ages 12 or younger, two die in traffic crashes each day, and 325 are injured.
Greenlee urges parents to follow NHTSA’s car seat recommendations:
Birth to 12 months:
For the best possible protection, children younger than 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing seats: infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing longer.
1 to 3 years:
Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age 2 or older. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
4 to 7 years:
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until the child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
8 to 12 years:
Keep your child in a booster seat until the child is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.
· Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, choose a seat that fits in your vehicle, and use it on every trip, every time.
· Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.
· To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
· Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
For more information about child passenger safety issues in the Ozarks or to schedule a car seat check appointment, contact Safe Kids Springfield in the Mercy Injury Prevention Center at 417-820-6671. Safe Kids Springfield works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Springfield is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Mercy Springfield Communities is the lead agency for Safe Kids Springfield which was founded in 1989. For additional information about Safe Kids Springfield’s programs, visit www.safekidsspringfield.org or check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/safekidsspringfield