Safety In Motion
I recently had Erin Malone (a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor) from Safety In Motion come to our home for a car seat installation inspection and consultation. I was SHOCKED at the things that I didn’t know and/or the things I was misinformed about. She helped us not only make sure our current convertible car seat was installed correctly in both our cars (it wasn’t), but she also helped us plan ahead for when new baby arrives this summer. I can’t more highly recommend her service. What you will learn could be life saving, and it is a small price to pay for how much safer you will make your children. With all the valuable things she was telling me, I asked her if she would write some important tips for my blog, and she agreed!!
Here are her important tips:
Would you allow your two-year old child to walk along the roof of a three-story building? Of course not! However, most of us do not realize the force of a car crash or a sudden stop at 30 mph has the same effect on a child as falling from a three-story building! And sadly, statistics across the nation show that most parents are not correctly using and installing their child restraints.
Orange County is no exception. In fact, Orange County has a 95% misuse rate. Out of 30 car seats inspected at monthly car seat check-up events, only ONE is used correctly.
Safety In Motion offers the following tips:
* Infants must ride facing the rear of the car as long as possible. Turning forward is NOT graduation day…it actually decreases their safety. Even though your convertible car seat can turn forward once infants are one year old and weigh 20 lbs, they are five times safer if you keep them facing the rear until they are at least 2 years old.
* When a toddler faces forward, straps will hold back his body but not his head in a sudden stop. The head is thrust forward, stretching the neck and easily injuring the spinal cord. Children in Sweden ride facing the rear until they are three to five years old, and their injury rate is almost non-existent! All new convertible car seats available today allow children to remain rear facing until they weigh 30 pounds or more, depending on the model.
* Don’t be concerned about your rear-facing child’s feet touching the back of your vehicle seat. When the researchers look at the data, they rarely see injuries to the child’s feet or legs. It’s also much easier to fix a broken leg than a broken neck.
* Children should ride in car seats with a harness for as long as possible. Children should not be in a booster seat until they are at least 4 years old—preferably older. It’s important to check the weight limit of your car seat. If your car seat turns into a booster seat by removing the harness, the seat will have two weight limits: one is for the harness and one is for the booster mode. For example, if you see a weight limit of 100 lbs, that is NOT the weight of the harness. Read carefully and you might be surprised to find out your harness weight limit is only 40 lbs!
* Many children outgrow their car seats by height before weight. For a forward-facing car seat, the top of the harness straps should always be AT or ABOVE your child’s shoulders. If you notice your child’s shoulders are too tall for his or her car seat, we can definitely offer advice on selecting a new car seat.
* Most children need to ride in booster seats until at least 8 years of age. Unfortunately, there is not a magic weight or height to let you know when your child is ready to come out a booster seat. Before a child can move out of a booster seat, you must be able to answer “yes” to ALL of the questions in the 5-Step Test developed by Safety Belt Safe USA.
The 5-Step Test
1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to make the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit right. My own two step-children were not ready to sit without their booster seats until they were 11 and 12 years old!
Safety In Motion is staffed by professionals dedicated to keeping your family safe. In addition to offering free car seat safety classes and events throughout Orange County, they also offer home appointments. During a home appointment, a certified technician will spend about an hour with you and your family. Not only do they teach YOU how to properly install your child’s car seat, they also check your car seat for recalls and teach you how to properly fit your child or infant in the car seat. In fact, if you are expecting a child, they even bring a doll so you can practice adjusting the straps and feel confident on your first ride home from the hospital.
Appointments are available during the day, evening and weekends, and they even offer gift certificates!