You just need to make a quick trip to the store for ingredients for dinner. After all, it’s less than a mile away. You grab your toddler, put him in the car seat and start your journey. This time, however, the journey takes a turn: someone blasts through a stop light and your vehicle is hit. The baby is protected… this time. But then you remember that you actually considered not using the car seat this time, since the trip was going to be quick and close. No one wants to hear the alternative ending to this story about what would have happened if the car seat hadn’t been used.
It is estimated that 300,000 children are injured each year as a result of improper use of seatbelts and car seats, and that approximately 2,000 children die as a result of improper car seat installation. When your child is in the transitional stage of using a seatbelt or using a car seat, or you’re just not sure what age to begin to make the transition, what is the best way to determine the best seating for travel? Are you putting off purchasing one because of the price, or you are not sure it will meet all requirement? For one, all car seats have to meet government safety regulations. Hospitals and other agencies will offer fittings for car seats and infant seats, and many of them will even provide a car seat if the parent does not own one. As you can see, there are no excuses for using a car seat. And, if you have recently purchased one and are still not sure what to do, here are some basic guidelines for determining the best fit:
- Price does not necessarily determine the best seat; many manufacturers make affordable versions that have to meet government regulations.
- Infant seats can be used for children from birth to 20 pounds.
- Convertible seats can be used until the child grows out of it.
- Booster seats can be used for children up to 30-40 pounds.
- Refrain from the use of regular seatbelts for children under 80 pounds.
- If you do use a seat belt, position the lap belt on the thigh, not the stomach. Putting it across the stomach could cause damage to internal organs in the event of a crash.
- Shoulder belt should be positioned so it goes across the chest and shoulder.
Ideally, car seats should be used at every trip and parents should make sure that their children know that “no is not an option” when it comes to using a car seat or seat belt, regardless of how short the trip will be. No matter where you go or how close you drive from your home, neglecting to use a seat belt or car seat for anyone under the age of 10 could mean a ticket, or worse, an accident resulting in a serious injury or fatality. The life of your child is in your hands. Take the extra time to know how to properly install and use a car seat. Doing so will mean a safe trip to the store this time and for trips in the future.