Parents and caregivers need reminders from time to time. That’s one of the reasons why Child Passenger Safety Week, happening now through Saturday, is a program that adults should pay attention to.
A 2015 survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 37.4 percent of children ages 4 to 7 in the U.S. were not being properly restrained. In fact, more than 25 percent were being restrained by a seat belt and more than 11 percent weren’t restrained at all. Of those numbers, 13 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 3 were prematurely transitioned to booster seats, marking a steep increase from last year’s numbers.
It boils down to this: Even parents with the best intentions don’t realize they’re making potentially life-threatening mistakes. Since the two years that our firm has been around, we’ve encouraged families to take advantage of what the week has to offer.
What you’ll learn: The importance of the chest clip
The chest clip is one of the central components to protecting a smaller child in the event of a crash. It’s the buckle that prevents them from things like whiplash. But placing the clip awkwardly has the potential to do more harm than good. A telltale sign that you need to adjust your protocol: if you can easily move your child in and out of the seat without fussing with the straps. During Safety Week, experts are on hand to show you how to make sure the clip is placed properly.
What you’ll learn: Not all cars are created equal
While one seat may fit perfectly in the back of a Toyota, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll fit in the back of an Escalade. And that’s a problem. In many cases, families make the mistake of installing old car seats in new cars. That’s dangerous on a few levels, the most notable of which is rendering the seat obsolete. Child car seats are designed to protect children from collisions. It’s pointless if the seat itself has the potential to come undone. Manufacturers adjust their designs on a regular basis to account for these issues, some a better fit than others. Fortunately, you have the option to ask an expert during Safety Week.
What you’ll learn: Car seats need to be checked annually
Parents will go months before realizing that their child’s car seat is outdated or has been recalled by the manufacturer. Others will simply reuse seats for new infants. Like most products, all car seats have a lifespan, some no more than a few years. Having your seat inspected annually (which you can often achieve for free by making an appointment with your local fire department) is a necessary step to ensure all your gear is functioning properly. No appointment necessary at designated stations during Safety Week .
What you’ll learn: It’s not just about car seats
As your kids get older, instinct kicks in. Your youngster wants to hand with the adults. Think about it: How many times has your child asked to sit in the front seat? In Illinois, it’s illegal for kids under the age of 12 to travel in the front passenger seat of a car, yet parents don’t always have a tough time convincing them to do otherwise. Setting the limit is important, but it’s also important to teach older kids the proper way to sit in the backseat, harness in three-point position (no putting your arm over the strap! We all know that trick).
What you’ll learn: National Seat Check Saturday is the best
This coming Saturday, experts will station themselves in neighborhoods around the country to inspect seats and provide parents with practical safety advice related to seat belts. The best part: Drop-in stations are quick, easy, and free. You’ll get your inspection and still have time to take your kids out for a scoop of ice cream.