Keeping Children Safe in Car Seats

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  2. April 22, 2013 2:41 am

Keeping Children Safe in Car Seats

Traffic crashes kill more children in the U.S. than any other type of accident. Concern over the safety of children has led to the establishment in every state and in the District of Columbia of child restraint laws. These laws require that children be restrained in some manner when riding in vehicles designed to carry passengers.

Seat belts have done much to reduce deaths and serious injuries by restraining occupants in the event of a crash, but they will generally not protect smaller children. Car seats thus provide the type of protection children need when riding in vehicles. However, parents and adult guardians should understand that child seats have to be used properly to be effective. Significantly, research has shown that only about 25 percent of all car seats are used properly.

Children who are less than 1 year old should always ride in rear-facing seats, with the back of the seat providing the restraint. The seat should be placed in the center of the back seat of a vehicle, so to provide protection from a side impact. Children should remain in rear-facing seats until they reach the age height or weight requirements that are specified by the individual manufacturers. Older or larger children can ride in forward-facing seats. Booster seats are ideal as children near adolescence and are able to use regular seat belts. However, a child under the age of 12 should still be placed in the rear seat of a vehicle.

Car seats should be positioned in such a manner so to keep the child’s head back, and they should never be placed adjacent to air bags. Additionally, car seats should fit the vehicle in which they are being used and should be installed in accordance with the instructions of manufacturer. However, prolonged placement in car seats can have adverse health effects on children, particularly infants, which is why these devices should only be used in vehicles.

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