How can we correctly install and use car and booster seats to keep our kids safe? Did you know that studies show that car seat use reduces the risk of death to infants by 71% and to toddlers (1-4 yrs.) by 54% in passenger vehicles? Booster seats reduce the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4-8 yrs. when compared to seat belts alone.
As far as rear-facing vs. front- facing car seats go, each car seat has its own height and weight requirements – so you will need to check, however, most car seats allow children to sit rear-facing up to 40 lbs. The height limit for most rear- facing seats is that there must be a least 1 inch of room between the top of the child’s head and top of the car seat. When your child reaches the height or weight limit it is time to switch from a rear-facing to forward-facing car seat.
Car seats expire, and when they do, they are no longer safe. Most manufacturers place an expiration date of 6 years on their car seats. Since car seats are expensive, people often pass them on or donate them without realizing this. Always check the expiration date before using them, and realize that if a car seat has even been in a minor accident it is no longer usable, and should be replaced. Don’t accept a donated car seat if you are not 100% sure of its history. I heard someone say, “You take your child to the doctor and dentist for preventative care. Well, meeting the requirements and new guidelines for car seats is preventative care too.”
A car seat is one of the most important purchases you will make for your child. For parents that are concerned that they haven’t installed their child’s car seat correctly go to www.seatcheck.org then, click onto Parents Central | Keeping Kids Safe| NHTSA. Under EXPLORE (on the bottom of the page), go onto Inspection Station Locator, put your zip code in and it will show you on a map where to go for help to install or check your car seat.
Karen O'Leary is an Assistant Home Manager at New Beginnings. She has her BA in Bible Theology and her Masters of Divinity. She has 8-years of experience as a Social Director at a non-profit organization helping those in crisis with financial assistance, brief supportive counseling, and being a spiritual presence in their time of need. In her free time Karen enjoys reading, cooking and traveling.