Make the First Ride a Safe One

Robin Deal, BSN, RN, CPST is the Perinatal Services Manager for Rex Healthcare. She has been a Child Passenger Safety Technician for over 13 years.

Baby Car seatsDid you know that car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13?  Many times injuries or death may be prevented by the proper use of child safety seats, booster seats, and seat belts.   The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years.  Research studies have shown as many as 70-80% of child seats are misused.

Parents want to know “What is the best car seat for my child?”  The best car seat is the one that fits your car, fits your child and one you will use correctly every time.  Because there are so many types and brands on the market, parents have trouble deciding which one to buy.  More expensive does not necessarily mean safer.  All child safety seats have to meet minimum safety standards.  Check the labels and seat instruction manual to make sure the seat meets federal requirements.

To find the seat that fits your car, start by checking your car’s manual to determine the seating positions you can use to install a seat in your vehicle.  Vehicle features such as width, depth and angle of the seating position and types of seat belt systems may limit the positions you can use.  Cars with 2-doors or “bucket” seats are often difficult to get into and install a seat.  In general, the safest place to install a seat is in the middle position of the back seat (for sedan models).  You may have to try out several seats before you find the right fit.  Your child’s weight and length (height) will help you decide on a seat that fits your child.  For newborns, an infant only rear-facing seat is the best recommendation.  The American Academy of Pediatrics  recommends that all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.  Make sure you select a seat you will use correctly every time.  You should be able to properly install the safety seat into your vehicle with less than 1 inch of movement and at the correct angle or position according to the seat instructions.  Remember to read both your car owner manual AND your child safety seat manual before installing your seat.

Are used car seats safe?  Before buying or borrowing a used car seat, find out the answers to these questions.  Has the seat been involved in a crash?  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has guidelines to help you decide if the seat is safe to use if it has been involved in a crash.  Does the seat have an instruction manual?  If not, you can call the manufacturer to get one.  Has the seat been recalled?  This question can be answered by looking at a recall list.  You can find a current list on the NHTSA website http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS or on the North Carolina Buckle Up website at http://www.buckleupnc.org/using_recalls.cfm.  Has the seat expired?  All current models of child safety seats have an expiration date imprinted on the bottom or on the car seat label.  Finally, make sure that the seat has all the pieces and parts specified in the car seat manual.

At Rex, we want to make sure that first ride is a safe one.  We offer a monthly Child Passenger Safety Class to educate parents on proper installation.  In addition, a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician is on duty Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to inspect your child safety seat installation.  In observance of national Child Passenger Safety Week, September 15-21, Rex will host its annual “I LOVE YOU BABY DAY” inspection clinic on Saturday, September 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second level of the Women’s Center parking deck.

For more information about car seats, check out the resources listed below.  You may also reach our technician at 919-784-1802.  Don’t forget, children learn by example so buckle up every time you get in your vehicle and make sure all passengers do the same.

Car Safety Seats – Information for Families

safekids.org – car seat tips

nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS

buckleupnc.org/using_recalls.cfm

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