Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-19 in Arkansas. Selecting and properly installing the correct car seat can be the difference between life and death. Take a look at these car seat safety facts from the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children’s to see how you can keep your kids safe on the road. All recommendations are based on the American Academy of Pediatrics and Safe Kids Worldwide guidelines.
- Rear-Facing As Long As Possible: All infants and toddlers should be in a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches the upper height or weight limit of his car seat.
- Forward Facing: Children who have outgrown the rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness until the child reaches the upper height or weight limit of his seat.
- Check the Harnesses. For rear-facing car seats, harnesses should be in slots at or below the child’s shoulders. For forward-facing car seats, harnesses should be in slots at or above the child’s shoulders. They should be snug and the chest clip should be placed clipped at armpit level.
- Nothing between Child and Harness. Do not put anything thick between your child and the car seat harness straps. This includes blankets, winter coats, and those really cute, plush car seat covers that have a back section between the baby and car seat. Super cute, but very dangerous.
- Booster until 8 years or 80 pounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat with a harness ride in a booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. Typically, this is when they have reached 4 ft 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years old.
- Shoulder Belt in Place. Never let your child slip the shoulder belt behind their arm or back. This keeps the upper part of the body highly vulnerable during a crash, often resulting in severe injuries.
- Under 13 in Back. Children under 13 years of age should always ride in the back seat, away from airbags, with their seat belt buckled at all times.
- Always Buckle Up. Everyone - including adults – in the car should be buckled up at all times.
- Watch Hand-Me-Downs. Don’t assume your new baby can ride in his or her older sibling’s car seat. Replace car seats every six years.
- Have a Pro Check Your Work. Approximately 90% of people installing car seats get it wrong on the first try (studies show the average car seat has 3 mistakes). Let the pros help you get your car seat installed correctly! The Injury Prevention Center routinely offers car seat safety checks so you can ensure your car seat is set up correctly and ready for the road.
For more information, check out the Ultimate Car Seat Guide at https://www.safekids.org/ultimate-car-seat-guide/
Article updated: May 2020