Crashes are the leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old, according to the National Safety Council. To prevent unnecessary injury, safety organizations across the country are encouraging caregivers to take time during national Child Passenger Safety Week, September 17-23, to examine car safety systems and research information that could save young lives.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthychildren.org provides information on the types of car seats and corresponding ages for each:
- Infants and toddlers should use only rear-facing or rear-facing convertible car seats until they are at least 2 years old and typically up to 40 or 50 pounds depending on the particular seat.
- Toddlers and preschoolers should use a forward-facing car seat for as long as possible if they have outgrown the height or weight limits of rear-facing seats.
- School-aged children should use booster seats until the until vehicle seat belts fit them properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches. Also remember that all children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.
These seats may be attached with either the vehicle’s seat belt or the LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system. The organization stresses the importance of using the top tether for all forward-facing seats to improve safety even in seats that use the vehicle’s seat belt. For seats that do use the vehicle’s seat belt, make sure the seat belt locks to ensure a tight fit.
Harness straps for rear facing seats should be located at or below the child’s shoulders and should be located at or above the child’s shoulders on forward-facing seats. Also, ensure the harness passes the “pinch test.” The harness should not be loose enough to be easily pinched.
For additional information about child vehicle restraint systems, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.