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It’s Child Passenger Safety Week! Are your Car Seats Installed Correctly?

September 17-23rd is Child Passenger Safety Week

We are thrilled to have a guest blogger today!  Becca Peterson is a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST) and licensed attorney in Mankato.  In her full-time employment Becca is a judicial law clerk for the Minnesota Judicial Branch.  She uses her CPST certification in her role as a part-time car seat technician for the Mankato Clinic.  Becca has two kids, Charlie and Gretchen, with her husband, Dave.  When not working or car-seat-ing (it’s a real word) Becca enjoys playing with her kids, crafting, and reading.

Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children (number 4 cause for under age 1, number 2 cause for ages 1-4, and number 1 cause for ages 5-9, 10-14, and 15-24).

 

Here are some basic steps to take to make sure your car seat is properly installed and used correctly every time to best protect your child in the event of a crash:

 

  1. Read the manuals. Both your car seat manual and your vehicle manual. The vehicle manual section on child restraints will tell you where your LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children, if equipped) are located in your vehicle, where child restraints may be installed and, just as importantly, where they are not allowed to be installed.  It will also have information on the location of airbags in your vehicle.  Never place a rear facing child restraint in front of an active airbag.
  2. Children should ride in a rear facing car seat until at least age 2. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both recommend that children remain rear facing in vehicles until at least age two, but ideally until they have outgrown the limits of their rear facing car seat.  The AAP quotes Dr. Dennis Durbin, MD, FAAP, lead author of the child restraint policy: “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.”  A child’s feet touching the back of the vehicle seat or being bent at the knees while rear facing is not a cause for concern. 
  3. Check your installation.
    1. Your seat should be installed using either lower anchors or the seatbelt, never both at the same time.
    2. Check your vehicle manual to determine where the designated lower anchors are located or how to lock your seat belts. Once installed, check for movement of the car seat at the belt path (where the seat belt or lower anchors go through the car seat).  If you can move the seat 1 inch or less front-to-back and side-to-side it is a tight enough install. 
    3. Check the angle of your car seat. This is especially important for newborns who have little to no neck strength.  Your car seat should have an angle indicator somewhere on the seat; it may be a bubble, a ball, a sticker, or simply a line.  Check your car seat manual to determine the appropriate angle for your child’s age or weight. 
    4. The car seat should not be bracing on the vehicle seat in front of it. For some seats, light touching is permitted, but it should not be wedged into the vehicle seat in front of it.  Unfortunately, not every car seat will fit properly in every vehicle, so if it is possible to try the car seat in your vehicle before purchasing it, this may save you some trouble.
  4. Strap child in correctly. With the straps untwisted, make sure you are buckling both the chest clip and the crotch buckle.  Straps for a rear facing child should be coming from at or below their shoulders.  Straps for a forward facing child should be coming from at or above their shoulders.  Snug the harness tight so that you cannot pinch any excess harness webbing between your fingers.  Be sure to make sure there is no extra slack hiding near the child’s hips.  The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.  Avoid thick coats, buntings, or thick blankets from being between child and the car seat or child and the harness straps. 
  5. Make an appointment with a CPST. Child Passenger Safety Technicians are specially trained and certified to help teach parents how to install and use their car seat correctly.  This article is just the tip of the ice berg for proper car seat use.  A CSPT will be able to talk to you about your specific seat, your specific vehicle, and make sure that your seat is installed correctly so that your child is as safe as possible every time you’re in the car.  You can find a list of CPSTs in your area by going to http://cert.safekids.org

 

For the Mankato area, a FREE car seat check station will be held on November 18, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at Snell Motors.  Please call Snell Motors at 507-345-4626 to schedule your appointment.

 

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