NDDOH: Check children’s car seatsIn observance of Child Passenger Safety Month in February, the North Dakota Department of Health urges all parents and caregivers to make sure they choose the right car seat to fit their child’s size, age, physical development and behavioral needs.
In observance of Child Passenger Safety Month in February, the North Dakota Department of Health urges all parents and caregivers to make sure they choose the right car seat to fit their child’s size, age, physical development and behavioral needs.
The No. 1 killer of children in North Dakota is motor vehicle crashes. According to the North Dakota Department of Health, car seat checkup statistics for 2010 indicate that 88 percent of the car seats checked were being misused in some form. One of the categories of misuse was that 15 percent of the restraints used were inappropriate for the child.
Of the cases where the restraint wasn’t appropriate for the child:
* 85 percent of the children were too small or too young. Many were moved from a booster to a seat belt before they were tall enough and many were too young to be in a booster (younger than 4 years of age).
* 46 percent of children were too large and were exceeding the maximum height or weight of the seat they were in.
To cut down on misuse, the Department of Health suggests always reading the instructions for the restraint being selected to make sure the child falls within the guidelines indicated by the manufacturer. Restraint manufacturers are required to use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s testing standards while crash testing their seats. Not following the instructions can cause the restraint to not perform as it should in a crash, putting the passenger at more risk.
To offer children the best protection while traveling in the car, even if you are only traveling a block away, the Department of Health offers the following best practices:
Children should ride rear-facing until at least 2 years of age. Two types of car seats are available for rear-facing:
Infant Seats – Most of these seats can be used until 22-35 pounds. Use them until the highest weight limit or until the child’s head is within one inch of the top of the seat.
Convertible Seats – These seats can be used rear-facing and forward-facing. Most can be used rear-facing up to 30-40 pounds. Use them rear-facing until the highest weight or height limit allowed by the manufacturer.
When children are at least 2 years of age or have outgrown the highest rear-facing limits of their car seat, they may ride forward-facing in a car seat with a harness. Use the seat until the child reaches the harness’s highest weight limit allowed by the manufacturer. Car seats with harnesses can be used up to 40-100 pounds.
When children have outgrown the harness in their forward-facing car seat, they may be moved to a booster. The child should be at least 40 pounds and at least 4 years of age. Keep the child in the booster until about 4 feet 9 inches tall or the seat belt fits correctly over the child’s body. Most boosters can be used up to 80-120 pounds.
Children should use a seat belt when it fits over the body correctly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs and be snug across the shoulder and chest. It should not lie on the stomach or across the neck.
Caregivers who need assistance with their car seats should attend a car seat check or contact a certified child passenger safety technician for help. To find the closest certified technician, call the North Dakota Department of Health at 701-328-4536 or 800-472-2286 or visit visit www.ndhealth.gov/injury or the NHTSA website at www.nhtsa.gov/.
For more information about child passenger safety, contact Dawn Mayer, North Dakota Department of Health, at 701-328-4536.