Child Safety Seats
FOUR STEPS FOR KIDS
The Addison Police Department realizes the importance of having a properly installed child safety seat. If you are unable to secure your child seat or would like assistance in checking your seat for recalls or proper installation, whether you are a resident of Addison or not, contact Community Service Officer J. Gilpin at (630) 543-3080 to have your child safety seat checked.
Did you know that at least four out of five children in safety seats are improperly restrained? The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends that all children, up to 80 pounds, use child safety seats. The Four Steps for Kids are:
- Rear-Facing Child Seats
Use rear-facing seats for children from birth to at least 20 pounds and at least one year of age.
- Forward-Facing Child Seats
Use forward-facing seats for children over 20 pounds and at least one year to about 40 pounds and about age four.
- Belt-Positioning Booster Seats
Seat belts can seriously injure small children who are not properly placed in safety seats. Use booster seats for children who weigh from about 40 pounds to about 80 pounds and measure 4' 9" in height.
- Seat Belts
Use seat belts when children are large enough for belts to fit correctly: at least 4' 9 tall and about 80 pounds.
TOP 10 CAR SEAT MISTAKES
- Seat Belt Not Securing Child Safety Seat Tightly
When properly secured, a child seat should not move side to side more than 1 inch when the seat is pulled from the base near the seat belt.
- Child Facing Forward Too Soon
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that children remain rear-facing in a child safety seat until they reach both one year of age and 20 pounds and up to two years old if they fit comfortably in the seat and are still within height and weight requirements.
- Harness Straps In Wrong Slots
When rear-facing, harness straps should be routed through the slots that are "at or below" the child’s shoulders. When forward-facing, the straps should be routed through the slots that are "at or above" the shoulders. For most convertible seats, the harness straps should be at the highest slots when forward-facing, as these slots are reinforced.
- Locking Clip Not Used When Required
A locking clip should be used when you have a seat belt system that is a lap and shoulder belt combination, with a free sliding latch plate, and an emergency locking retractor (a retractor that only locks in a crash or emergency braking). The locking clip should be installed within 1 inch of the buckle.
- Retainer Clip Not Used Correctly
The retainer clip, which properly positions the shoulder harness straps, should be at the child’s armpit level. The straps should be threaded through the clip in the same manner on both sides.
- Harness Straps Not Tight Enough
The harness straps are what will hold your child in position in the child seat when a crash occurs. They should be snug enough so that only one finger can be placed between the strap and the child’s shoulder.
- Improper Child Seat For The Child
Every child seat has weight and height parameters. Never exceed these parameters as set by the manufacturer. If your child weighs more than the seat allows, you must transition your child to another seat. Do not move your child too soon into a seat belt only. Seat belts are designed for adults, not six year old children. Children under 4' 9 and under 80 pounds are recommended to be placed in a booster seat to avoid possible internal injuries caused by "Seat Belt Syndrome."
- Using A Recalled Or Unsafe Seat
Many child seats have been recalled by the manufacturers, but not all recalls require the seat to be destroyed. Many simply require a replacement part that you can obtain free. A copy of the current recall list is available on the NHTSA website. Do not use a child seat that has been purchased from a resale shop or at a garage sale. You do not know the history behind the seat, and it may be missing critical parts. Lastly, never use a child seat after it has been involved in a crash. You should ask that it be replaced by your insurance company when they fix your car. This also applies to seat belts which are only designed for one time use after the vehicle's occupants use them in a crash.
- Child Seat Incompatible With Vehicle Seat/Air Bag
Never place a rear-facing child seat in front of a passenger side air bag! Also, not every child seat will fit properly in every car. Some seat belt systems and vehicle seat designs make it very difficult, if not impossible, to install a child seat properly. Some child seat designs are not compatible with certain cars. Try before you buy!
- "Foreign Objects" Used To Secure A Child Seat
Do not use such items as bungee cords, tie down straps, rope, wire, clamps, etc., to secure your child seat. These items could prove dangerous in a crash. A rolled up towel or foam "pool noodle" can be used under a rear-facing seat to assist in properly positioning the child seat the required 45-degree angle.
Click here for a summary of car seat recommendations.
For further information, contact SafeKids at www.safekids.org.
UPDATED RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS
(Parenting.com) -- In a new policy statement published in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics now advises parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat, which can be found on the back of the seat.
Previously, the AAP advised parents to keep kids rear-facing as long as possible, up to the maximum limit of the car seat, and this has not changed.
But it also cited one year and 20 pounds as the minimum for flipping the seat, which many parents and pediatricians interpreted as conventional wisdom on the best time to make the switch.
The new policy clarifies the AAP's recommendation, making age 2 the new guideline -- a real game-changer for parents of toddlers.
A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention found that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. Another study found riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing.
"A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body," said Dennis Durbin, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatric emergency physician and co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of the policy statement and accompanying technical report.
Parenting talked to Ben Hoffman, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and a child passenger safety technician, to get answers to parents' most pressing questions about the new policy.
Although the new baseline is now age 2, the AAP has advised parents since 2002 to keep kids rear-facing until they reach the height or weight limit of their car seat.
Why are parents so eager to turn their car seats?
"Parents are interested in milestones, and the minimum of one year and 20 pounds has been interpreted as gold standard instead of the minimum," says Hoffman. "Parents are always looking for the next stage of development because in every other scenario, that's a good thing. With car safety seats, however, that's often not the case."
But isn't forward-facing easier for everyone?
Yes, it's easier to interact with your child when she is facing forward and less awkward to get her into the seat. But safety should be the main concern. "I would ask parents to consider the protection of the child in addition to comfort," says Hoffman. "It's minimally acceptable to change to forward-facing at a year, but parents can do better than that."
What about squished legs?
Kids who have been only rear-faced will most likely not be bothered since they don't know anything else. And it's completely fine for their feet to touch the seat back or for their legs to bend. "Once you make the switch, it's hard to go back, so try not to ever switch them before they are ready," says Hoffman.
Why are so few parents aware of even the older guidelines that say kids should stay rear-facing as long as possible?
There may have been some confusion with the message, with many parents mistaking the minimum for the ideal age to make the switch. The AAP hopes that by making age 2 the new guideline the message will be less confusing for parents and for pediatricians.
If my child turns 2 before he reaches the height or weight limit for the seat, should I keep him rear-facing?
Yes. The safest decision is to keep him rear-facing until he reaches the height or weight limit for the seat.
If my child reaches the height or weight limit for my seat before age 2, what should I do?
Once your child exceeds the height and weight limit of his infant car seat, purchase a convertible car seat with a higher height or weight limit (most go to 35 pounds rear-facing) and continue to use it rear-facing until age two, or until your child hits the height or weight limit for rear-facing use. At that point, you can make the switch to forward-facing -- or you can purchase a convertible car seat with a higher weight limit for rear-facing (some go up to 45 pounds). "That's a very personal decision for the parent," says Hoffman, one that may also be influenced by the size of your car, the arrival of a younger sibling or your budget.
What should I do if I've already switched my under-2 child for forward-facing?
The best advice is for parents to consider switching their child back to rear-facing. But the next best thing is to, at a minimum, make sure you correctly use the seat you have: Make sure the seat is harnessed tightly to the vehicle, that the harness is snug over the child and the chest clip is in the correct position, and that the seatbelt or LATCH system is installed correctly.
Why didn't my pediatrician tell me about this?
"Pediatricians should be talking about this," says Hoffman. "But given everything else that needs to happen in a well-child visit, sometimes this message gets left behind. I would love to see a day where every family care health provider knew the best possible advice and shared it with their patients."
CHILD SAFETY SEAT RECALLS
For information on recalls on child safety restraint systems, visit Safercar.gov.