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Five ways to keep kids safe while riding in cars

Published on September 19, 2016

Five ways to keep kids safe while riding in cars

Sharon Dunham BSN, RN, PHN, ICCE, CLC, CPST-Special Needs
Outreach Educator
St. Cloud Hospital | Women's and Children's Center

Keep kids safe in carsFirst, some good news. The number of children dying in motor vehicle crashes has decreased remarkably over the past decade.

Now for the bad news. It’s estimated that one in three children who died in car crashes were not buckled up. And many of those who are buckled up are not done so properly. One recent study reviewed car and booster seats on the road and found that 72 percent of them were being misused in a way where a child could be at a greater risk of injury if a crash occurred. Luckily, there are ways to keep our kids safe on the road.

Protecting your child requires more than just finding the right seat. It also involves getting it installed correctly and checking how it is being used over time. Here are five things you can do to make sure your child is riding safe.

  1. Location, location, location. While air bags work to keep adult passengers safe, they can actually be a danger to children riding in the front seat. Children ages 12 and under should ride in the back seat. If possible, child car seats should be positioned in the middle of the back seat — the safest place in the car. Also, rear-facing car seats should never be used in front of an air bag.
  2. Have your seat inspected. Car seat checks are regularly planned so experts can make sure the seat adequately fits your child and has been installed correctly. See the table below for how you can get your car seat checked depending on where you live in Central Minnesota. While every parent should be familiar with the height and weight limits of each child’s seat — in general, the type of car seat a child should use is as follows:
    • From birth to age 2 should use a rear-facing car seat.
    • From age 2 to age 5 should use a forward-facing car seat.
    • From age 5 until adult seat belts fit appropriately should use a booster seat. Until your child is age 8 or 57 inches tall, your child does not meet the recommended age or height for a seat belt. It will fit your child properly when the lap belt lays across his or her upper thighs (not over the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across his or her chest (not over the neck).
  3. Make car seats mandatory for every trip. Regardless of how short the trip. You never know when you could be in an accident. 
  4. Have your seat registered. Complete the product registration information with your seat’s manufacturer. This way, you can be alerted if your child’s car seat is later recalled.
  5. Be a good role model. Kids always are watching you. If you always wear your seat belt, this will encourage them to buckle up while riding in their car seats. And hopefully it will get them in the habit of buckling up for when they are old enough to drive on their own.

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About the Author

Sharon Dunham

Sharon Dunham, BSN, RN, PHN, CPST-Special Needs
Outreach Educator
St. Cloud Hospital | Women's and Children's Center 

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