Every parent wants the best for their child’s future, and one of the best ways to make sure your child will have a bright future is to be sure that you are correctly using the right car seat for your child and that the seat is correctly installed in your vehicle every time. The problem is that keeping them safe in vehicles isn’t as easy as it might appear.
Most parents think they are using their car seat correctly, but unfortunately, at least three out of four car seats are used incorrectly. For a car seat to best protect your child, it must be the one that fits your child, your vehicle, and one that you will use correctly every time you travel.
That’s why Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Michelle Allen, is urging all parents and caregivers to attend the child safety seat checkup event on March 22.
Certified technicians will available to provide on-site child safety seat inspections and education from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Austin County Fairgrounds under the Charlie Brandes Entertainment Pavilion.
Securing your children properly in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats — in the back seat of your vehicle — is the most effective thing you can do to protect them in the event of a crash. In fact, in motor vehicle crashes, child safety seats reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. Misuse of car seats can cause needless injuries and fatalities.
For a child safety seat to do its job correctly, it must be:
• Appropriate for your child’s age and size,
• Installed properly in your vehicle, and
• Adjusted to fit your child securely.
Parents are reminded to keep children rear-facing until at least age 2 or until the limit of their rear-facing convertible seat, which is usually 40 pounds or more. Also, children should stay in a 5-point harness system until they are ready to ride in a booster seat. Booster seats are for children who are at least age 4 and 40 pounds or more, and mature enough to sit still in a booster. Finally, keep children in a booster seat until the seat belt fits correctly. This is usually sometime between ages 8 and 12. The average child fits in a seat belt at age 11.
If you’re a parent or caregiver, don’t miss this opportunity to have a free child safety seat inspection by a certified child passenger safety technician. A technician can provide hands-on advice and instruction. Make sure your children are safe and you are in compliance with the current child safety seat laws in Texas. The law requires all children under age 8, unless taller than 4-feet-9-inches, to be in a child safety seat system, which includes traditional child safety seats with harnesses and booster seats. Keep in mind that the law is always the minimum. Car seat technicians will be able to provide education on the best practices.
Follow these guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep your children riding safely:
• Infants and Toddlers – Rear-facing Only and Convertible Seats
All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 2 years of age or, preferably, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer.
• Toddlers and Pre-schoolers – Convertible and Forward-facing with a Harness Seats
Children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for his convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by his car seat manufacturer.
• School-age Children - Booster Seats
Children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly; typically, this is between the ages of 8-12 years old.
• Older Children – Seat Belts
When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection.
Remember: All child passengers under age 13 should ride securely restrained in the back seat, where they are safest — every trip, every time.