Safe Kids – In The Car

Kids Car Safety

We must remember, as parents we are responsible for the safety of our children. With accidental injury being the leading cause of death, and car accidents topping this list it is important to follow some basic safety rules when travelling in an automobile.

 

Child Safety Seats (car seats)

kids car safety

Child car seats are absolutely essential to protect your loved one. When used correctly they substantially reduce the risk of serious injury and death by restraining your child in an accident.

 

When Choosing A Car Seat Remember:

  • High price doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good seat for your child – A car seat should suit your child’s age, height, weight, size and fit into the vehicle appropriately
  •  Read the label – Make sure that the car seat you purchase meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
  • Avoid buying car seats not labeled with the manufacture date and model number
  • Be sure that your car seat comes with an understandable instruction manual covering installation and use
  • Be sure to check the label for the manufactures recommended expiry date
  • Be careful with used car seats – Do not use a car seat older than 6 years, or one that has been in an accident, even if it appears to be alright. (it maybe structurally unsound)
  • If you have any doubt about the history of a used car seat, or it is missing parts and looks worn – DO NOT USE IT
  • Make sure you have read the manual and fully understand the installation instructions. If you need help with installation most health departments, hospitals, ambulance stations, fire stations and public safety groups have technicians who can assist with the installation or check that it has been installed correctly.

 

Different Types Of Car Safety Seats

Because our children come in all different shapes and sizes so must our vehicle safety seats to ensure our loved ones remain both safe and comfortable whilst in the car.

The main types of car safety seats are: infant car seats, convertible car seats, forward facing car seats, booster seats, combination booster seats and shield booster seats (designed to use lap seat belts)

 

Infant Car Seats

infant car seat

Infant only car seats are designed for babies from birth until they reach 16 kg (around 35 pounds) depending on the model, and are installed facing the rear of the vehicle, this allows the back of the safety seat to support the baby’s head, neck and torso in an accident. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have recommended children be transported in a rear facing car seat until they reach the maximum height and weight limits of the seat or the age of two.

 

Installation tips

  • Be sure to read and understand the manual
  • Place the safety seat on the vehicles rear seat in a secure position
  • Make sure the belts are tight. The car seat should not be able to move more than 3 centimeters (around one inch) from side to side or front to back when installed
  • Double check the tightness of the belts before each trip
  • Do Not Use an infant only car seat facing forward
  • The installed car seat should not recline any more than 45 degrees

 

Tips To Harness Your Infant

  • Read and understand the entire safety seat manual
  • Be sure that your child’s head is at least 6 centimeters (around 2 inches below the top of the car seat
  • The harness in the car seat should be placed at or below your baby’s shoulders – If your seat has a clip to hold the straps together move it up level with the child’s armpits
  • Make sure all straps are snug, they should not be twisted. If you can pinch a harness strap between your fingers it is too loose
  • Even if it is cold, never buckle a blanket behind or under a baby. Buckle them in first and then place a blanket over them
  • If your baby leans to one side you can place rolled up towels or diapers beside the shoulders for support
  • If your child’s head flops forward check the angle of the seat, it should be 30 – 45 degrees. You can use a towel or similar to adjust the angle

 

Convertible Car Seats

convertible car seats

A convertible car seat is simply a safety seat which is initially used in the rear facing position until your baby is ready to face forward, then turned around or converted to a front facing safety seat. Although they can be heavy and cumbersome a convertible car seat can save you money as you do not have to buy a separate infant only seat.

 

Remember:

  • Make sure the convertible seat fits your child correctly
  • Some convertible car seats come with tray shields, these seats should not be used for newborns as the child’s face may strike the tray in an accident

 

Installation Tips

  • Be sure to read and understand the manual
  • Place the safety seat on the rear seat in a secure position, preferably in the center. The seat should remain facing rear until your child reaches the safety seats maximum height and weight limits or turns two years of age, then the safety seat should be turned or converted to the front facing position
  • If your child reaches the seats maximum limits before the age of 2 they are much safer in a larger convertible safety seat and kept in the rear facing position, and small kids (under the seats maximum height and weight limits) are safer staying in a rear facing safety seat even after the age of two
  • Check the manufacturers recommended angle of recline for both rear and front facing positions
  • Make sure the belts are tight. The car seat should not be able to move more than 3 centimeters (around one inch) from side to side or front to back when installed
  • Double check the tightness of the belts before each trip
  • Do Not Use an infant only car seat facing forward
  • The installed car seat should not recline any more than 45 degrees

 

Tips To Harness Your Infant

  • Read and understand the entire safety seat manual
  • Shoulder straps should be at or below your baby’s shoulders for best protection
  • In a convertible car seat there is usually three harness options
  1. The five point harness
  2. The tray shield
  3. The T-shield

Out of these three the five point harness offers the best protection as it can be tightened to a snug fit and will not obstruct the baby’s head. The tray shield and the T-shield may cover a baby’s face and are not recommended for children under 10 kg (around 20 pounds) or less than 1 year old.

 

Remember:

  • Make sure all straps are snug, they should not be twisted. If you can pinch a harness strap between your fingers it is too loose
  • All straps should fit snugly, especially over the shoulder and thigh areas. Straps should always lie flat, never twisted. If you can pinch any harness webbing between your fingers, it’s too loose
  • Even if it is cold, never buckle a blanket behind or under a baby. Buckle them in first and then place a blanket over them
  • If your baby leans to one side you can place rolled up towels or diapers beside the shoulders for support
  • If your child’s head flops forward check the angle of the seat, it should be 30 – 45 degrees. You can use a towel or similar to adjust the angle

 

Forward Facing Only

forward facing car seat

Depending on the model forward facing only car seats are designed for kids 10 to 36 kg (around 20 to 80 pounds) Children 2 years and older, or younger than two years who have reached the maximum height and weight limits of the rear facing car seat should use a forward facing car seat.

 

Installation Tips

  • Be sure to read and understand the manual
  • Place the safety seat on the rear seat in a secure position, preferably in the center
  • Make sure the belts are tight. The car seat should not be able to move more than 3 cm (around one inch) from side to side or front to back when installed
  • Double check the tightness of the belts before each trip

 

Booster Seats

Booster seats are used for children who have outgrown the forward facing safety seat but are still too small to be restrained effectively by a vehicles seatbelt. A booster seat should be used until the vehicles lap and shoulder seat belts fit the child properly and will restrain them effectively in an accident.

 

Choosing The Right Booster Seat

  • Read the label – Make sure that the booster seat you purchase meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
  • Be careful with used booster seats – Do not use a booster seat older than 6 years, or one that has been in an accident, even if it appears to be alright. (it maybe structurally unsound)

 

Different Types Of Booster Seats

Belt positioning booster seats – raise children to the correct height to use the cars lap and shoulder belts and can be purchased in high back or backless models

 

  • High back booster seats are used when the vehicle has low seat backs

high back booster seat

High Back Booster Seat

  • Backless booster seats are used when the vehicles seat or head support is capable of supporting the child’s head fully (from the neck to above the ears)

backless booster seat

Backless Booster Seat

  • Combination Booster Seats – can be used as a forward facing safety seat or a belt positioning booster seat

combination booster seat

  • Shield Booster Seats (shield tray in the front of your child and no back) – these are not recommended as they were designed for lap seatbelt only cars and do not provide good upper body protection

shield booster seat

 

Installation Tips

  • Read and understand the entire product manual
  • The best spot for a booster seat is in the center of the back seat facing forward where there is a lap and shoulder seat belt
  • Check the safety seat positioning before each use.

 

Tips To Harness Your Infant

  • Read and understand the entire booster seat manual
  • Ensure the lap belt is low and snug across your child’s hips
  • Ensure the shoulder belt is flat and snug across your child’s shoulder, not rubbing on the neck and face

 

When To Stop Using The Booster Seat

You can stop using the booster seat when a child is large enough to sit in a vehicle with their back resting against the vehicles seat and their knees bent over the front. The lap seatbelt should be low on top of the thighs with the sash belt comfortably positioned across the center of the chest. This usually occurs when the child is around 8 to 12 years old or 150 cm (around 4 feet 9 inches)

 

Kids And Airbags

When combined with safety belts, air bags protect adults and teens from serious injury during a collision. But air bags have the potential to seriously injure, even kill young children sitting in the front passenger seat when they deploy.

For an airbag to protect an average sized male they must deploy up to 200 miles an hour, whilst this amount of force has the ability to restrain an adult and prevent serious injury it can be very dangerous for young children and may result in head and neck injuries.

 

Kids Safety And Airbags – following these rules:

  • Always place your safety or booster seat in the rear of the vehicle – if you have a two seat vehicle and you must use a booster seat push the vehicles seat as far back as it will go
  • In 1995 a law was passed allowing car manufacturers to install a manual cut off switch for the front passenger side airbag. If your car has this be sure to disable the airbag for the duration of the trip (remember to turn it back on after)
  • Kids under 13 years old should always ride in the rear of the vehicle, preferably in the center of the back seat if there is a lap and chest sash seatbelt available


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