In honor of National Child Passenger Safety Week Loyola University Health System safety expert offers tips on keeping children safe in the car. Car accidents remain the leading cause of death and disability in children in the United States. Stricter laws and car seat education programs have dramatically decreased the mortality and morbidity rates in motor vehicle accidents in the last several years. Yet, thousands of children die or are injured in car accidents each year.
"Incorrect usage of car seats and child restraints has played a large role in motor vehicle accidents continuing to be the leading killer of children in our country," said Karen Judy, MD, professor department of pediatrics Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Studies have shown that seven out of 10 car seats are not installed correctly.
"If your child weighs less than 80 pounds and is shorter than 57 inches a seat belt will lay across the child's neck and belly. In the event of an accident this puts pressure on sensitive areas with the potential for serious injuries including spinal cord and abdominal injuries or even death," said Judy. "No matter how short the trip, if your child is in the car he or she should be in a child safety seat."
She offers the following tips to help parents keep their kids safe while traveling in the car.
Make sure you have the correct kind of car seat for your child's age, height and weight.
a.Most infant carrier car seats only hold up to 22 pounds and should always be used in a rear-facing position.
b.New AAP recommendations state that children should remain rear facing until two years of age.
c.Consider using a convertible car seat that has a five-point restraint. Again, keep a child in a rear-facing position until age 2.
d.Booster seats should be used for children ages 4 to 8 or older. A child should continue to ride in a booster seat until he or she is at least 4 feet, 9 inches or taller, and 80 pounds no matter their age.
e.Children under age 13 should never sit in the front seat because air bags are powerful and can crush a child.