The most precious cargo we ever carry in our automobile is our passengers. None are more important than our children. As parents and grandparents, we always want to do the best thing for our child’s health and safety. We make sure that they don’t eat too much candy. We teach them to look both ways before crossing the street.
But when it comes to riding in an automobile, are we making sure they are buckled up correctly? Even though experts for years have stressed the importance of child safety seats, the No. 1 killer in the United States for children ages 4-14 is car crashes.
Partners for Child Passenger Safety is an organization of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It is dedicated to understanding how and why children are injured or killed in auto crashes.
One of the earliest findings of the group’s study was that children ages 2 to 5 who use adult seat belts are 3.5 times more likely to suffer significant injury than those correctly restrained in a child safety seat or belt-positioning booster seat. The data showed more than 61 percent of children ages 4 to 8 were not optimally restrained and were often using only a seat belt. Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children. A belt-positioning booster seat, which is the next step after a child has completely outgrown a child safety seat, gives kids a lift so that a lap and shoulder belt fits them properly.
Based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recommendations, the following tips are critical to help ensure the safety of children riding in vehicles.
If the child is a newborn up to at least 1 year and at least 20 pounds, he or she should use a rear-facing infant seat or rear-facing convertible seat; keep the child in the rear-facing seat until he or she has completely outgrown the seat; never place a rear-facing infant in the front seat with an airbag and follow the child safety seat and vehicle manufacturers’ instructions on correct restraint use and installation.
For children over at least 1 year and between 20 and 40 pounds, he or she should use a forward-facing convertible seat or forward-facing combination seat with harness straps; keep the child in the forward-facing child safety seat until he or she has completely outgrown it; follow the child safety seat and vehicle manufacturers’ instructions on correct restraint use and installation.
For children more than 40 pounds and up to 8 years old, you should use a belt-positioning booster seat with lap and shoulder seat belt and follow the child safety seat and vehicle manufacturers’ instructions on correct restraint use and installation.
Wayne Scroggins, president and owner of Scroggins Insurance Agency, can be reached at (941) 795-1500.