Car Safety for Children
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in children in the United States! This horrible statistic is made worse when we discover that 75% of child fatalities and 50% of child injuries could be eliminated with the consistent and correct use of child safety seats and safety belts! Educate yourself about your responsibility as a caregiver/parent to provide the children in your care with the protection that law and common sense dictate. When you drive with children in the car, children must be safety seats and belts and in them correctly!

Placing children in safety seats is not the end of the problem. Statistics indicate that up to 50% of the children who are placed in seats may be placed incorrectly. This can lead to injury or death!

It is important to educate yourself in order to protect your child. Safety seats are safety equipment! Buy the correct child seat according to the child's weight, height, and developmental ability. Check safety seat and vehicle safety belt system compatibility.

If buying second hand, ensure that the seat has not been in an accident, that is meets federal standards, has all necessary belts, buckles, and clips and that manufacturer directions are available. If it is missing any of the mentioned, pass it by.

Not all child seats can be installed in all vehicles and all seating positions. With numerous models of child seats, almost 300 models of passenger vehicles, and the wide range of belt systems available today, correctly installing a child seat can be challenging.

The best way to be sure your child seat is compatible with the vehicle you are considering is to test it before you purchase or lease the vehicle. Be sure to read the child seat's instruction manual and review all information in the vehicle owner's manual concerning correct installation.

Once the seat is installed, check it by firmly pulling the base of the child seat from side to side and forward. The child seat should not move more than one inch in any direction. Whether you have a front passenger side air bag in your vehicle or not, remember that children are always safer in the back seat. When children out-grow forward-facing safety seats, they need to be restrained in belt-positioning booster seats - until they are big enough to fit properly in an adult seat belt.

Children who cannot sit with their backs straight against the vehicle seat back cushion, with knees bent over a vehicle's seat edge without slouching, are not big enough for adult seat belts. Many Parents skip this very important step.

Chldren generally outgrow convertible child safety seats when they are about 40 lbs. From 40 to about 80 lbs, and about 4'9" tall, children should always be seated in a belt-positioning booster; lifting them so adult lap/shoulder seat belts are "positioned" correctly and safely. Plus, booster seats offer children better visibility and comfort.

Conditioning your children at a young age to wear a seatbelt is the only way to go. Not only is your child safer, but the driver will have their attention more on the road and driving then on what their child is doing or getting into.

Many car companies are adding child safety seats to their car models. These permanent seats are designed to restrain children at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds in a forward-facing position. Because they are built into the vehicle, these seats are an effective restraint system for children, Built-in child seats have an advantage over add-on child seats because they do not have compatibility problems with the vehicle's seat design or seat belt systems. Dodge is one car manufacturer that is starting to offer these permanent seats. In their 2001 Caravan, Dodge offers for the little ones an optional intergraded child seat that faces the front and provides ore convenience than a conventional child seat. Their new child seat LATCH anchoring system provides direct, consistent attachment of portable, compatible aftermarket child seats to the vehicle backseats for improved protection.

We need to work together to protect and educate all children. Always take care to buckle up the children you care for. Then be sure to buckle up yourself!

by Christa Koch