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Safe Kids Campbell County: Child Safety Seat Tips

Did you know that every year thousands of children are tragically injured or killed in vehicle crashes? In fact, it is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-13 years old.

According to the Wyoming Department of Health Wyoming Trauma Program, from 2010-2013 there were 415 vehicle crashes that involved children between the ages of newborn to 18 years old—14 of those children died as a result of their injuries.

For those who do not know, Wyoming law requires children 9 years old and younger to be properly restrained with a child car or booster seat in the back seat of the vehicle. The penalty is a $50 fine for the first offense and a $100 for the second offense.

According to the Wyoming Department of Transportation, nationally four out of five car seats are being used improperly; however, in Wyoming the average of car seats being used improperly is around 94 percent. Research shows that when a car seat is used correctly every time, it can reduce the risk of death by up to 71 percent!

Check out these quick tips to keep your kiddo safe:

  1. Like milk, your car seat has an expiration date, so make sure that you have the correct safety seat for your child. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height.
  2. Ask yourself, “Is my child sitting in the correct place in my vehicle?” If you didn’t already know, children should ride in a back seat until they are at least 13 years of age.
  3. Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until at least 2 years old. When he or she outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat and make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower attachments (LATCH).
  4. A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side-to-side or front-to-back?
  5. Use the Pinch Test. First, make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
  6. Buy a used car seat only if you know its full crash history. That means you must buy it from someone you know, not from a thrift store, from a stranger, or from a listserve. Once a car seat has been in a crash, is missing parts, or is expired or broken, it needs to be replaced. And, visit www.recalls.gov to inquire about recalls or safety notices on child safety seats.
  7. When adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too.

And, if you didn’t already know, children no longer require the booster seat when a seat belt fits correctly—the adult lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt must lie snugly across the shoulder and chest (usually when a child is approximately 4 foot 9 inches tall, and between 8 and 12 years of age).

Remember: A properly installed car seat or child restraint can help prevent a tragedy.

Learn how to install your car seat for free! Safe Kids Campbell County hosts car seat inspection events where certified technicians can help you learn to install your car seat properly. They will teach you so that you can always be sure your car seat is used correctly. The next safety seat check takes place on Friday, May 12. 12-3 pm at CCH Home Medical Resources, 901 W. Second St.—across from the Rockpile Museum. Learn more here

Check out more car seat safety tips at Safe Kids World Wide, www.safekids.org/car-seat

Have Questions?
Campbell County Health’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff perform free car seat checks through Safe Kids Campbell County. Inspections take around 30 minutes and are performed by nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians. Technicians will train parents and caregivers to install and adjust their car seats properly. Replacement seats may be available for a contribution. Bring your child and the owner's manuals for your vehicle and your car seat. Replacement car seats are available for a $30 contribution. For more information, contact Safe Kids Campbell County at 307.688.SAFE (7233) or visit www.cchwyo.org/safekids.