Summertime is synonymous with road trips. But many people are not aware that a major cause of injury and death in children continues to be motor vehicle crashes. When you’re reviewing your packing checklist, remember to make sure that your child will be traveling safely.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other prominent safety organizations recommend that all children 12 years and under ride in the backseat. This position keeps kids away from the incredible force of a deploying airbag as well as often farther away from the area of impact. Remember - back seat is best!
Want to know if your infant or toddler needs a new car seat? Don’t worry as much about where his legs fall. Instead, check the seat label for the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding weight and height. This information will help you to know when a child should graduate to a new seat or change from rear facing to forward facing. Remember - Check seat label!
Just say “no” to used or hand-me-down car seats. Because of the repeated exposure to heat and cold, seat materials are stressed by temperature fluctuations. In addition, a used seat doesn’t come with information about previous motor vehicle crashes. Any seat that has been in a crash should be replaced. Remember - no used seats!
Seat installation can be tricky for even the most adept parent. Consider having your seat fit checked at a local car seat check. Go to LGHealth.org/classes. Under the Health and Safety tab, click on Car Seat Safety Checks for a listing of car seat safety check locations. Remember - ask for help!
Big kids still need a boost. Don’t stop using the car seat too early. The adult lap/shoulder belt does not fit well until a child is at least 4 foot 9 inches tall. An improperly fitting seatbelt may cause serious injury. Remember - booster seats are beneficial!
Remember, the proper use of seat belts and car seats can keep your child safe and make your summer road trip an enjoyable family experience.
Jennifer S. Ammons, M.D., FAAP, is a pediatrician with Roseville Pediatrics. She is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her special interests include child safety, infectious diseases, and immunizations. She is a graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.