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Child Passenger Safety: Car Seat Tips For Parents

Car Seat Safety As a new parent, there are so many things to learn and stress over, baby names, breastfeeding, and of course there's the car seat! Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-12 years old. Car crashes happen unexpectedly and in a matter of seconds, so it is important for your baby to be properly restrained at all times. Texas Children’s Hospital is spreading awareness in order to ensure your child’s safety while riding in a motorized vehicle. Many times deaths and injuries can be prevented by the proper use of car seats, booster seats and seat belts, which is why we wanted to cover some basic car seat tips every parent should know:
  • Make sure your child is in the right seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height. Double check the label on your car seat to make sure your seat is not expired. (Yes, car seats do expire.)
  • Make sure your child’s car seat is facing the correct direction. You’ll want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, usually until around age two. The longer your child rides rear-facing the safer for their head, neck and spine. When your child outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat.
  • Once your car seat is installed, grab the seat at the belt path and give it a tug. A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch side to side or front to back. Do not use both the lower attachments and seat belt at the same time unless approved by the vehicle and car seat manufacturer.
  • How tight is too tight? Make sure the harness is buckled and coming from the correct harness slots (check car seat manual). The chest clip should be placed at armpit level and all slack removed from the harness. With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the straps at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you are good to go.
  • Make sure your child is sitting in the correct location. Keep children riding in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
A correctly installed car seat is one item on the checklist that can be easily taken care of by making an appointment with a car seat technician.  The staff with the Center for Childhood Injury Prevention, as well as many communities throughout Greater Houston have Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians available to provide free education on how to use car seats, booster seats and seat belts for children. Technicians can also help educate consumers about choosing the right car seat for their child, the importance of registering car seats with the manufacturer and what to expect should that seat be subject to a safety recall. As car seat technicians, we understand that installing your child's car seat correctly can be a challenge, but there are so many free resources available to help parents out. Call the Texas Children's Car Seat Line to make an appointment to learn how to correctly use your child's car seat, by calling 832-822-2277 or visiting www.safekidsgreaterhouston.org. To learn more about Texas Children's Injury Prevention Department, visit here.
Author
Lisa Delgado, Health Education Specialist for Childhood Injury Prevention