Child Safety Seats – Take it From a Fireman

Last updated on July 11th, 2016 at 12:26 am

Two boys in car seats, travellingSummer is here and if you are like me, you now have a car load of children tagging along with you to do your daily errands that you normally did while they were in school.  Summer is prime time for road trips and field trips to all sorts of amazing places around our great country, but the facts are the facts and the facts are still very much pointing towards too many children either not properly secured in vehicles or just not secured at all.  There are laws in every state now that deal with seatbelts and car seats and still some of us do not wear our seatbelts and do not properly secure our children.  Please take it from someone who sees the results of not wearing seatbelts in many auto accidents: Seatbelts save lives!  And as of 2013, auto accidents are still among a leading cause of death in children, and still one of the most preventable.  Whether your child is an infant or a teenager, it is still important to make sure everyone is wearing seatbelts and is properly secured.

According to the CDC  In the United States, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children. In 2013, 638 children ages 12 years and younger died in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 127,250 were injured. But parents and caregivers can make a lifesaving difference.

Whenever you’re on the road, make sure your child passengers are buckled in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, or seat belts. Buckle all children ages 12 and under in the back seat. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an airbag.  Note: the safest place for children of any age to ride is properly buckled in the back seat.

Data shows that:

  • In 2013, restraint use saved the lives of 263 children ages 4 years and younger.
  • Car seats reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4.
  • Booster seats reduce the risk for serious injury by 45% for children ages 4 to 8 years.
  • Between 1975 and 2013, child restraints saved an estimated 10,421 lives of children ages 4 and younger.

Know the Stages

Make sure children are properly buckled up in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, whichever is appropriate for their age, height, and weight.

  • Birth up to age 2 – Rear-facing car seat. For the best possible protection, infants and children should be buckled in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat, until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits.
  • Age 2 up to at least age 5 – Forward-facing car seat. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat, in the back seat, until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits.
  • Age 5 up until seat belts fit properly – Booster seat. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat (by reaching the upper height or weight limit of their seat), they should be buckled in a belt positioning booster seat until seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). Remember to keep children properly buckled in the back seat for the best possible protection.
  • Once seat belts fit properly without a booster seat – Children no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). The recommended height for proper seat belt fit is 57 inches tall. For the best possible protection keep children properly buckled in the back seat.

Need Advice?

Install and use car seats and booster seats according to the seat’s owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.  Find a Child Passenger Safety Technician.  

September 19 is National Seat Check Saturday, when drivers with child passengers are encouraged to visit a child safety seat inspection station to have a certified technician inspect their car seat and give hands-on advice free of charge…(although no need to wait for September to get help – it’s available year-round).  Locate a car seat inspection station in your area.

  • Buckle children in the middle of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest spot in the vehicle.
  • Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip, no matter how short.
  • Set a good example by always using your seat belt.

Summary  a.k.a. the highlights (…at the risk of repeating myself)

  1. Using the correct car seat or booster seat can be a lifesaver.
  2. Make sure your child is always buckled in an age- and size-appropriate car seat or booster seat.
  3. Use a rear-facing car seat from birth to age 2.
  4. Use a forward-facing car seat from age 2 up to at least 5.
  5. Use a booster seat from age 5 up until seat belts fit properly.
  6. Use a seat belt once seat belts fit properly without a booster seat.

So if you are not going to take it from the Fireman, please take it from the CDC. SEATBELTS SAVE LIVES. No matter the age!!

As an EMS professional I urge everyone to buckle up and as a father I urge every parent to be the example in the care and buckle up.

I hope everyone has an amazing summer and you go amazing places.   But please WEAR YOUR SEATBELT!  Thank you!

About the Author

Greg Atwood is a Firefighter /Paramedic in Coral Gables Florida and works for the Coral Gables Fire Rescue. He is an American Heart Association certified instructor in BLS ( Basic Life Support ), ACLS ( Advanced Cardiopulmonary Life Support ), and PALS ( Pediatric Advanced Life Support ). Greg currently lives in Miami Florida with his beautiful wife Alexa and their 2 sons, Connor and Jake. Greg is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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