Saturday, January 30, 2010

Children's Car Seat Safety Guide

Even though most parents understand the need for using a car seat in their younger children, many children are still unnecessarily injured in car accidents. Among the factors that contribute to these preventable injuries are car seats used incorrectly or not used at all, children being placed in the wrong type of car seat, and moving children out of a car seat or booster and into regular seat belts at too early an age.
Transportation Safety Tips:

* Tip #1 Quick safety seat checkup
* Tip #2 Where should your child ride?
* Tip #3 How to protect your new baby in the car
* Tip #4 What safety seat to use for a big baby or toddler?
* Tip #5 How should preschool and school children ride safely?
* Tip #6 Is your safety seat secure in the car?
* Tip #7 Harness straps
* Tip #8 What are safety seat recalls?
* Tip #9 Air bag safety
* Tip #10 Play it safe
* Tip #11 Kids on the move
* Tip #12 School bus stops
* Tip #13 Handrails & drawstrings
* Tip #14 Beyond the front yard

General Car Seat Safety Tips:

* All children under 13 years of age should be placed in the back seat of the car, especially if you have passenger side air bags.
* Infants should be in a rear-facing infant only seat or convertible seat until they are at least 12 months old and twenty pounds (minimum recommendation), although it is likely safest to continue rear-facing until they reach the weight and height limits of their car seat. Children who reach twenty pounds before their first birthday still need to face backwards and can be moved into a rear-facing convertible seat with higher weight and height limits.
* After they are twenty pounds and have passed their first birthday, toddlers can use a forward-facing car seat until they are about 40 pounds or their ears have reached the top of the car seat. Keep in mind that it is likely best to ride in a harnessed seat as long as possible if you have a seat with a harness that has higher weight and height limits.
* Children over forty pounds and four years of age can usually be placed into a belt positioning booster seat, although it is usually best to ride in a seat with harness straps as long as possible if you have one with high weight and height limits.
* You should not use your car's regular seat belts without a booster seat until they fit correctly when your child is 8 to 12 years old, unless he or she is already 4'9".
* Your child will not be ready to use regular seat belts until the shoulder strap fits across his shoulder and not his neck, and the lap belt fits across his hips and not his stomach.
* Be sure to read the car seat manufacture's instructions and your car owner's manual to be sure that you are installing and using the car seat correctly.

Car Seat Safety Internet Resources:

* Safety: more safety tips from your Pediatrics Guide
* Family Shopping Guide to Car Seats: AAP guide to buying a car seat, with a price comparison chart of features and prices of car seats from different manufacturers
* Car Seat Shopping Guide for Children with Special Needs: AAP Guide to finding a car seat for your child with special needs.

Used Infant Car Seats

It can also be one of the more expensive, especially when you consider that you may have to buy two or three car and booster seats before your child actually graduates to just sitting in seat belts.

That expense may tempt some parents to want to buy a used car seat or used booster seat at a garage sale, thrift store, or even on ebay. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has found that many thrift stores sell hazardous products, including children's products, such as unsafe used baby crib and infant car seats that had been recalled.

If you are going to buy a used car seat or used booster seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you avoid the used car seat unless you know the car seat's history. This is very important because car seats should not be reused after they have been in a moderate or severe crash. Reusing a car seat after a car accident is often okay if it was just a minor crash though.

Unfortunately, unless you are buying or borrowing a used car seat from a friend or family member, it is going to be almost impossible to know the seat's history.

The AAP also recommends that you don't buy or use a used car seat that:

* is too old, which generally means that it is more than six years old, although you should check the manual or call the manufacturer for a specific expiration date for that particular model of car seat.
* has visible cracks or is missing parts or its instruction manual.
* doesn't have a label with the date of manufacture and model number, so that you can check to see if the car seat has been recalled, and then, of course, don't buy or use the car seat if it has in fact been recalled.

Since you likely don't want to get a used car seat, unless you can find one that is in very good condition, never recalled or in a moderate or severe crash, and that hasn't expired, you might have to look for other ways to save money on your child's car seat, such as:

* buying a new, but recently out-of-date or discontinued model. Old models are often discounted once the latest models begin to appear in stores.
* shopping in advance for your car seat so that you can find a bargain, instead of waiting until the last minute when you absolutely need the car seat for your new baby or older child who has outgrown their old seat.
* look for coupons or rebates for a new car seat or booster seat.
* find a car seat assistance program that sometimes provide car seats to families in need, such as Safe Kids USA, some hospitals, and some local health departments.

Toddles Car Seat Safety

Car seat safety recommendations and car seat models have changed over the years, which makes it important for parents to keep up with all of the latest information on car seats to help keep their kids as safe as possible when riding in the car. For example, most car safety experts now recommend that toddlers continue to ride rear-facing, and that preschoolers continue to ride in forward-facing car seats with harness straps much longer than they used to.

Fortunately, car seat models are now available with higher weight and height limits to help you meet these new recommendations. These include rear-facing, infant-only seats with a 30- to 35-pound weight limit, as well as forward-facing seats with 5-point harness straps that have a 65- to 80-pound weight limit.

car seats for children

Learn how to choose the right car seat for your child and whether you need an infant carrier, regular car seat, or a booster. Plus information on where your child should ride in the car and when you can move them to regular seat belts.