By: Lindsay Chancellor, Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician
We all want to keep our children safe in the car. Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States. Here are just a few tips to keep your precious cargo safe for each and every ride…
1. Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. While it may be tempting to dash out for a quick errand, the temperature inside your car can rise 20 degrees and cause heatstroke in the time it takes for you to run in and out of the store.
2. Research shows that 73% of car seats are not used or installed correctly. If you have even the slightest doubt about your child’s car seat or the way it is installed, visit a certified car seat technician. They can double check your work and teach you how to properly install your car seat, buckle your child in, and answer any questions you may have.
3. Keep your child rear-facing until two years of age, that is when their head and neck development is strong enough to support them properly in the forward facing position, especially in case of an accident.
4. Never use or buy a used car seat, unless you know the car seat’s entire history. That means you must buy it from someone you know personally, not from a thrift store or the internet. Once a car seat has been in a crash, it must be replaced.
4. Keep your child in a five-point harness as long as possible. There is much more protection using the five-point system versus a three-point seat belt. There are even five-point harness booster seats that go up to 90 pounds.
6. Do not allow your big kid to ride in the car without a booster seat until they are at least 4’9” and between 80 – 100 pounds. To ensure your child is ready to ride without a booster seat, make sure the seatbelt is positioned properly and not cutting into your child’s neck. Your child should be able to sit with their knees bent over the edge of the vehicle’s seat with their back all the way against the back of the seat.
7. Loose items in your vehicle should be placed in a trunk or tied down in the back of an SUV. Loose items can become projectiles in the event of an accident or even if you make an abrupt stop. Mirrors, toys, window shades, bottles and other harmless items can become very dangerous in your car.
8. One very common mistake is the improper placement of the retainer clip. The retainer clip is the clip that goes across the child’s chest. This clip is often placed lower than it should be. The proper placement is at armpit level.
If you would like a Motherhood Center Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician to check and make sure your car seat is installed correctly and teach you how to use and install a car seat on your own, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713.963.8880 x 0. If you do have your baby or child with you during the scheduled appointment the CPS Technician can also show proper harness and retainer clip placement.