Getting the right car seat, installing it properly and using it in the right way is the best way to keep your children safe in the car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the United States, so using the right car seat to increase child car safety is critical.
How do you choose the right car safety seat? Seemingly there are dozens of options – and your selection should be influenced by your child’s age, weight and height. Take a look at these tips from Parents Central, a website from the NHTSA, when selecting a car or booster seat:
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.
- To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
- Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
To learn more about the different types of child car safety seats available and the latest guidelines for age, height and weight, visit Parents Central.
Avoiding accidents with kids in the car
According to Kids and Cars, each year a large number of children are left alone in vehicles. Most people underestimate the potential consequences. Risks to a child's safety including kidnapping, heat stroke, setting a vehicle in motion, injury from power accessories, getting trapped in the trunk and even fatal car crashes.
Accidents can happen right in your own garage or driveway. Kids and Cars offers the following tips to ensure child safety and help prevent accidents in or around vehicles.
Everyday car safety and children
- Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
- Put something you'll need, such as your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, on the floor board in the back seat.
- Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. We call this the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child's car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It's a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
- Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
- When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks immediately.
- If a child is locked inside a vehicle, get them out as quickly as possible. If they are hot or appear sick, call 911 or your local emergency number.
For more information on car safety for kids, visit the Kids and Cars website.