MUNCIE, Ind. – Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 17-23 with National Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 23. It’s important to make sure children receive the proper safety when traveling in a car. Learn more about car safety as we ask an IU Health Ball trauma nurse some common questions.
Why should I use a car seat?
Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of preventable death and injuries in children. Car seats can reduce the risk of death by 71% when used correctly. Unfortunately, over half of car seats are used or installed incorrectly. To keep children safe, make sure to always use the right car seat.
What types of car seats are there?
Based on your child’s age, height and weight is what type of car seat they should use. Visit nhtsa.gov/campaign/right-seat to establish the best seat for your child. As a rule of thumb, follow this guideline:
- Infant Carrier: These are designed for newborns and small babies, and most will outgrow this size before their first birthday. They should always be rear facing.
- Convertible (rear and forward facing): These seats can change from rear to forward facing seats with a harness and tether. These allow for children to grow and be able to fit in the car seat longer. Keep your child rear facing as long as possible.
- High back booster: Booster seats are designed to boost your child’s height so the seat belt can fit properly. With the high back, added neck and head support allows for comfort and protection in the case of a crash.
- Booster seat: A booster seat without the high back is designed to give your child the added height to allow proper seat belt placement. These seats are intended for vehicles that have a head rest that fits the child.
What is the Seat Belt Test?
Booster seats are designed for children too big for a traditional car seat, but don’t fit in a car seat properly. The seat belt test can determine if a child can safely ride in the car with just a seat belt. To perform the test, buckle your child in and make sure the lap belt is laying over the hips and the shoulder belt is laying over the shoulder. If the shoulder belt touches the neck of the child, the child should be in a booster seat.
What are some tips on best practices?
Be sure to keep your child in rear facing car seats until they reach the weight and height limit listed on the seat. Every single time a child rides in a car, make sure they are properly restrained. Have older children ride in a booster seat until they have exceeded the weight/height limit.
You can also have your seat inspected by a Child Passenger Safety Technician to ensure it is installed correctly. Indiana University Health Ball has 17 certified inspectors. Reach out to email@example.com to arrange an appointment.
Erin Jenkins, RN, BSN is an Injury Prevention Coordinator at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. For more information on car seat safety visit iuhealth.org.