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Is your child in the right car seat?

According to a recent 2017 study, a tragic 43 percent of children who died from car crashes between 2010 and 2014 were not properly restrained or were not restrained at all. A total of 2,885 children died during that period, an average of about 11 deaths a week. Lead author Dr. Lindsey L. Wolf, a surgical resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, stated: “[i]t’s amazing that many kids are not restrained.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also reported that of all the children ages 12 years and younger who died in a crash in 2015, a total of 35 percent were not buckled up.

Like every other state in the U.S., Pennsylvania has laws addressing child car seats. The detailed requirements may differ from state to state, but overall, every state recognizes the importance of keeping children properly restrained for their safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regularly works with various organizations around the country to promote child passenger safety. In their child seat safety campaign, they encourage parents to make sure their children are always restrained and they are using the right car seat for each child’s age and size.

Parents can now take advantage of a number of inspection sites where they can have their children’s car seat checked for safety and appropriate installation.

Here’s a quick video from the NHTSA showing how important it is to have your child in the correct seat.

NHTSA Provides Guidelines for Parents in Choosing Child Restraints

The CDC reports that car seat use reduces the risk of death for infants by 71 percent and toddlers by 54 percent. Booster seat use also reduces the risk of serious injury by 45 percent for children aged 4-8 years when compared to seat belt use alone.

The NHTSA acknowledges that it’s not always easy for parents to know which car seat they should have for each child in the family, and how each child should be restrained in those car seats. At, they offer some helpful guidelines and a handy resource that helps parents choose the best seat based on a child’s age and size.

In general, there are four types of car safety restraints for children:

  1. Rear-Facing Car Seat: These are for very young children. They come with a harness and are typically portable. Most children will use this seat from infancy to age 2.
  2. Forward-Facing Car Seat: This one is similar to the rear-facing car seat, in that it has a harness, but it faces forward to accommodate growing toddlers. Typical ages in this seat are 2 to 5 years.
  3. Booster Seats: These are simple seats that boost the child’s height so he or she is in the best position for seat-belt protection. It allows the seat belt to fit properly across the child’s body. Children ages 5 and up usually use these seats. They should move out of it only when they reach the recommended height of 57 inches.
  4. Seat Belt: This standard safety belt is the same as that used for adults. It’s important for parents to be aware that it needs to be positioned properly, lying across the upper thighs and snug across the shoulder and chest. It should not rest on the stomach or across the neck. If it does, the child still needs a booster seat.

Inspection Sites Available All Across the Pittsburgh Area

The NHTSA and other organizations provide child-seat inspection sites throughout the Pittsburgh area, where parents can get help determining which car seats they need. The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, for example, sponsors regular car seat checks throughout the community. You can find their schedule and locations here.

The Pittsburgh EMS Training Division also offers inspections by appointment on 22nd Street on Liberty Ave. Call 412-255-2450 to schedule your inspection.

The NHTSA also offers a searchable database on their website where parents can find additional inspection sites. Pittsburgh residents who search their city and state will find twelve available inspection site locations, including the Bellevue Fire Department and the Moon Township Police Department.

NHTSA Updates Parents on Child Seat Recalls

Parents should also be aware that some brands of child safety seats have been recalled because of safety issues. In May 2017, for example, Graco Children’s Products recalled the Graco “My Ride” child seat because the harness did not perform as expected during a safety test. The company lists the model numbers affected on their web page.

The NHTSA provides a website that lists all recent car safety seat recalls. Parents can check their seats on this site to see if they are affected. They can also sign up for email notifications of future child seat recalls.

Child Car Seat Safety Infographic

Click the image below for the full-size inforgraphic.
Child Car Seat Infographic

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