Tooele County Safe Kids organization urges parents and caregivers to make a resolve that could save a child’s life: select, and learn to use, the correct child safety seat every time a child travels in a vehicle. Properly used child safety seats reduce the risk of injury by 71 percent for rear-facing infants and 54 percent for forward-facing toddlers.
Nearly 1,800 kids under 15 died in crashes in 2002, and another 227,000 were injured. Child safety seats, properly installed and adjusted, can prevent an estimated 182,000 serious injuries every year.
“The best way to keep your child from becoming one of those grim statistics is to use an appropriate child safety seat or booster seat for every trip, and to make sure you know how to adjust it,” said Brenda Nelson, Safe Kids chapter coordinator.
The vast majority of child safety seats — about 82 percent — are used incorrectly. In a crash, children restrained incorrectly are 3.5 times more likely to be seriously injured than children in appropriate restraints. Half of the children killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2002 were not restrained at all.
Nelson says, “Set a good example. Ninety-two percent of the time, if parents are buckled up, the kids are buckled too.” Babies must ride in a rearfacing infant seat or convertible (infant/toddler) seat until they are at least a year old and at least 20 pounds; preferably, babies should ride in a rearfacing seat until they reach its weight or height limit as specified by the manufacturer. (In Sweden, the law requires babies and toddlers to ride in rear-facing seats up to 4 years of age.) Toddlers must ride in a forwardfacing child safety seat until they weigh at least 40 pounds, and bigger kids need a booster seat until they are about 8 years old and about 5 feet tall.
Four out of five kids who should be riding in a booster seat are not. “Adult safety belts don’t work on kids. The passenger has to be tall enough to sit all the way back in the seat and have the shoulder belt cross the shoulder, not the neck. For 83 percent of children ages 4 to 8, that will require a belt-positioning booster seat,” said Nelson.
“Never let a child tuck the shoulder strap under an arm,” Nelson added. “If the safety belts don’t fit right, use a beltpositioning booster seat.”
Once parents select the right child passenger restraint and learn to use it, the other vital New Year’s resolution is to use it every time, even on short trips. According to Nelson, “Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles of home — and 60 percent happen on low-speed roads, not major highways.”
Parents and caregivers who resolve to give their kids a safer new year should visit www. safekids.org or call 843-2338 to find a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician who can provide free expert advice about the correct use of child safety seats.
The Tooele County Safe Kids Chapter is part of the National Safe Kids Campaign, the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury — the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 300 state and local Safe Kids coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico make up the Campaign.