Properly used car seats essential for children’s safety

Unfortunately, many parents are incorrectly situating their children in car seats during travel, or otherwise incorrectly using the car seats. Those are mistakes that could prove costly when car accidents occur.

According to the Pensacola News Journal, the nonprofit group Safe Kids USA examined 79,000 car seat inspections from 2009 to 2010 and revealed trends that hamper the safety of kids who ride in car seats.

One of the biggest issues pertains to the tether straps that are meant to secure the top part of the car seat. Only 30 percent of parents involved in the study used the straps, and of the parents who did use them, 41 percent did so incorrectly.

Many kids are also remaining in certain car seat models longer than they should. While no concrete data was available, law enforcement officials say one common problem is children sitting in seats while exceeding their weight limit. This can cause neck injuries during a crash due to lack of head support.

Also, anywhere between 3 to 11 percent of parents install their car seats in the wrong direction. This figure changes depending on the model of car seat.

In Florida, the law demands that all children 5 years old and younger must travel in a restraint seat. A seat that is installed and used properly decreases the chance of death for infants by 71 percent. The likelihood also decreases by 54 percent among toddlers.

In cities and towns throughout the United States, law enforcement or fire houses frequently offer safety checks to help parents determine if they are restraining their children safely in the car.

Recently, the Midway Fire District firehouse near Gulf Breeze, Florida, held one of these events, offering new car seats for a cash donation, while providing safety checks for existing car seats.

Source: Pensacola News Journal, “Are you using your child’s car safety seat correctly?,” Troy Moon, Sept. 25,2011