Did you know that 9 out of 10 children in Central California are being transported unsafely? With school back in session, so are the crazy days filled with drop offs, pick ups and afternoon activities. In the midst of this excitement, it is important to remember that the safety of our children begins the moment we pull out of the driveway and continues until you return home.
California state law requires children to be rear-facing until they are 2-years old, 40 pounds or 40 inches tall. For best protection of the head, neck and spine, keep your babies rear-facing for as long as possible. All children must be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4 foot 9 inches tall. Kids 12 and younger must be secured in the back seats of the vehicle.
As your children reach a passenger milestone, take a moment to read your instruction manual and car seat labels for safety information. Below are a few important tips for car seat and passenger security:
- Always register your child’s car seat by completing and sending in its recall card – this way you will be notified of any safety information relevant to the product you are using.
- All car seats have an expiration date – do not use it past that date, even if it is in good condition.
- Pay close attention to car seat labels for age, weight and height limits because manufacturer recommendations can vary.
- Never purchase a used or secondhand car seat because there is no way to confirm if it has previously been involved in an accident.
- Car seats can be installed by either using the lower anchors or by the seatbelt. Never both!
- Once a seat is installed, it should be tugged at the belt path -- where the seatbelt or lower anchors all connect -- if it moves more than 1 inch, it is not tight enough.
- Do not put your child in a car seat wearing heavy clothing or coats.
- A more expensive car seat does not mean it is safer -- all products must pass the same basic standards.
Don’t let a hectic morning distract you from assuring that all of your little passengers are secure before you even shift gears to drive.
If you have questions about your car seat installation, certified technicians are available by contacting Valley Children’s Hospital at 559-353-5528 or the Fresno Police Department at 559- 621-5059. For information on car seat assistance programs, contact Baby Safe of Fresno at 559-432-2223.
by Kristina Pasma, Trauma Nurse, Valley Children’s Healthcare
This article originally appeared in the September edition of Central California Parent Magazine.