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Simple Safety: Car Seats

We can all agree that car seats are the safest way for kids to travel, but commonly we see car seats improperly used, which can reduce their effectiveness if you are involved in an accident. Common mistakes include:

  • Improper installation.
  • Turning kids forward facing too soon and/or going to a booster too soon.
  • Incorrect seat belt placement.
  • Bulky coats on under safety belts.

Below is some more information (with graphics and photos) on how to avoid these common mistakes.

Improper installation

Did you know that four out of five car seats are installed improperly? A properly installed car seat or child restraint can help prevent a tragedy. Campbell County Health can help you avoids this with free car seat checks through Safe Kids Campbell County.

If you want to make sure your child’s car seat is installed properly, consider scheduling a FREE safety seat inspection with certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians at CCH Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Technicians will train parents and caregivers to install and adjust their car seats properly. Participants are asked to bring the child, their current car seat and the vehicle that they normally travel in for the check. Inspections take around 30 minutes and are held on Wednesdays from 3-6 pm at the EMS Base, 502 Stocktrail Avenue in Gillette, Wyoming—appointments are required. Replacement car seats are available for a $30 contribution. Call (307) 688-SAFE (7233) to schedule an appointment.

Turning kids forward facing too soon and/or going to a booster too soon

Very commonly parents turn their child forward facing shortly after 1 year of age; however, they are much safer if they stay rear facing. Guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2011 recommend that all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer. Most convertible seats have limits that will allow children to ride rear facing for 2 years old or more. The AAP made the 2011 change to rear face until age 2 based on a 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention. The study found that children under age two are five times safer in a crash if they are rear facing compared to forward facing.

The AAP recommends that kids use a booster seat until they are at least 4’9” tall (57 inches) and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds. Children seated in a booster seat in the back seat of the car are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash than children using a seat belt alone. According to Wyoming Child Restraint Laws children must be in a child restraint (car seat or booster seat) until they are 9 years old.

Check out this graphic provided by the National Highway Traffic Administration.

Incorrect seat belt placement

Very commonly we see belts that are too loose or too far down on the abdomen, this does not adequately restrain the child in the event of an accident. Belts should be snug and across the upper chest. Check out his photo available at Partners In Learning.

Incorrect seat belt placement

Bulky coats on under safety belts

Wyoming winters are brutal and we all want to keep our littles ones warm and snuggled, but they are not safe being buckled into their seats with the coats under the buckles. This causes the belts to be too loose and not properly restrain the child. Coats should be off and a blanket or coat placed over the child once they are buckled. Check out his photo available at Partners In Learning.

Bulky coats on under safety belts

Deanna L. Lassegard, MD, is an Emergency Physician at Campbell County Memorial Hospital in Gillette, Wyoming. Our resident safety expert, Dr. Lassegard writes monthly Simple Safety blogs for Campbell County Health. Check them out at www.cchwyo.org/simplesafety.