National Child Passenger Safety Week
By Andy Roberts, EMT-I
At Hamilton EMS, we work to save lives on our county’s roadways. That includes doing everything we can to keep our children safe on the road. Although we may respond to a 911 call, you are the key to protecting your family.
September 14th through the 20th is Child Passenger Safety Week and is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that motor vehicle occupant death rates for children declined significantly from 2002 to 2011. However, one third (33%) of children who died in 2011 were unrestrained.
The 2013 National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats (NSUBS) shows that only 66 percent of children ages 4-7 were restrained in car seats of any type and about 24 percent of children ages 4-7 were prematurely moved to seat belts. Nine percent were completely unrestrained. About half of the children ages 8-14 who died in car crashes from 2008-2012 were unrestrained at the time of the crash.
You have the tools to keep your family safe. Car seats, booster seats and seat belts save lives. Choose a child’s safety seat that is manufactured for your child’s age and size:
- Children should remain in a rear facing car seat as long as possible until he or she reaches the upper limit of height and weight recommended by the manufacturer.
- Once your child outgrows a rear facing safety seat he or she can move to a forward facing car seat with a harness and a tether.
- Once your child reaches the upper height and weight limit on your forward facing car seat it’s time to transition to a booster seat but always in the back seat.
- Your child should remain in a booster seat until he or she is able to wear a seat belt properly. A properly fitted seat belt should fit snugly across the thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt should ride across the chest.
Take into consideration your child’s maturity level and ability to keep a seat belt on even when you are not looking.
Remember to register your safety seat online so that you can receive any information on recalls or other important safety information. The back seat is the safest place to ride in a car, so keep your child in the back seat until they are at least 13.
In 2012, 284 children under the age of 5 where saved by their safety seat and an additional 58 children could have lived if a safety seat had been used. Car seats reduce the risk of injury by 71% in infants and 54% in toddlers. All fifty states have laws concerning the use of car seats and booster seats some requiring a booster until the age of 9.
The safety of your family is in your hands so take some time this week to check your safety seat, booster seat or seat belt and be proactive in protecting your child. More information about child restraints can be found at www.safercar.gov
Andy is an EMT and CPR instructor with Hamilton EMS.