National Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 23–29

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Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue

National Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 23-29.

Every year, motor vehicle traffic crashes take the lives of hundreds of young children. Many of these deaths and injuries are preventable with the proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts.

Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee urges parents and caregivers to make sure their child’s safety seat is the proper size for their child and is properly installed in their vehicles. Prince William County residents may have their car seat checked by certified technicians at a local fire station at any time during the year. Please call the station prior to your visit to ensure a technician is on site to assist you. Click here for a list of fire stations.

Over the past 30 years, thousands of lives have been saved as the result of proper use of child restraints. Research, however, reveals that three out of four child safety seats are improperly installed. When used properly, child restraint seats provide the best protection for all children up to age 8, after which seat belts provide the best protection. Child safety seats decrease the risk of fatal injury by 71% among infants and 45% among children ages 4-8.

When installing your child’s car seat, parents and caregivers should carefully read the child safety seat instructions and instructions provided in the vehicle owner’s manual. Once the seat has been installed, the child restraint seat should be inspected by a certified technician to confirm the seat was correctly installed. Finally, all parents and caregivers should refer to the following five steps for correct use of a car seat:

Selection

Selecting the appropriate seat for the height, weight and physical developmental stages of your child is the most critical in the process. Starting with the right seat minimizes risks to your child.
Pick the one that fits the child, fits the vehicle, and is easy to install on every trip.

Direction

Rear-Facing
For the best possible protection, secure children in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years of
age or until the maximum weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat.
Forward-Facing
When children outgrow a rear-facing car seat, secure them in a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat.

Location

All children younger than age 13 should ride in a back seat.  Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front vehicle seat if the passenger-side front air bag is turned on. Read and follow car seat  anufacturer’s instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual to determine the effect of side-impact airbags.

Installation

Always read and follow the car seat instructions and vehicle owner’s manual.

Harnessing

Always read and follow the car seat instructions. Harness straps are snugly secured to hold the child in the car seat during a crash. A snug strap should not allow any slack. It lies in a relatively straight line without sagging. It does not press on the child’s flesh or push the child’s body into an un-natural position.

For more information about Child Passenger Safety, visit National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nhtsa.gov and Safe Kids Worldwide safekids.org/childpassenger-safety.

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