Choosing the Safest Seats for Your Smallest Loves
Buying the right car seat is important, but positioning it correctly in the car is a critical and potentially lifesaving consideration. According to safekids.org, road injuries are the leading cause of preventable death and injuries to children in the United States. If safety seats are properly installed and used according to the age, height and weight guidelines, these safety seats can reduce death by as much as 71 percent.
David Schmiderer, director of the child seat safety program at the Maryland Heights Fire Department, spoke to CarSoup.com about the key safety aspects for anyone transporting young children. This is important, not just for new parents but also new grandparents, nannies and babysitters. Schmiderer suggests keeping infants rear-facing for as long as possible. “We recommend a rear-facing car seat with a booster for a child up to 30 pounds. At 40 pounds, transition them to a rear-facing convertible seat, which is designed with more lumbar support to protect the spine. Only when the infant reaches and exceeds 40 pounds is it recommended to have them (in a) forward-facing infant car seat. It is best for them to remain in that car seat until they reach age four, are four-feet-eight in height or weigh 80 pounds.” This type of car seat has shoulder straps and attaches at the chest and at the base of the torso.
When it comes to selecting a new safety seat, Cathy Hogan, from the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center’s Injury Prevention Department in St. Louis, has these tips to offer. “The basic ‘always’ situations are that the harnesses should be tight enough that you cannot pinch the webbing,” said Hogan.”The chest retainer clip should be at the armpit level and the car seat should be installed so that there is no more movement than one inch at the belt path. Infants in the rear-facing position should never be placed in the front seat in front of an airbag unless the airbag has been turned off (such as in a pickup truck). If a child has to be placed in the front seat, his or her car seat should be in the forward-facing position, and the automobile seat should be placed as far back from the dashboard as possible.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children should only move into a booster seat, a seat used only with a standard seat belt, after they have outgrown the car seat.
“Once I had finally picked out the right safety seat, the fun really began,” said DiFranco. “Those two babble and chit chat back there, laughing and holding hands. It’s adorable because not only do I have no idea what they are saying, I can’t even see them because they are both rear-facing!” She did add that she picked up some padded plastic mirrors and a car mobile from her local baby supply store. “These keep them somewhat entertained,” said DiFranco, “but really they are happy with just each other and I am happy and relieved to know they are safe and comfortable.”
*Please see these resources for additional safety information: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a website called Parents Central focusing on tips on how to ensure your kids are indeed safe in their travels. The Governors Highway Safety Association provides a state-by-state review of child passenger safety laws. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers through its website healthychildren.org additional information on car seats and their use, as well as other guidelines on traveling with children by car. *
Find more information about safety, and shop for safe cars with features such as backup cameras and Bluetooth connections on CarSoup.com