Updated September 19, 2018
You may be surprised to learn that 73% of child safety seats are not used or installed correctly. And, road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States. Correctly used, car seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71%. When transporting children, even a short distance, make sure they are properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat every time.
5 tips to keep your child safe
As you think about purchasing or installing a child passenger safety seat, here are some important things to keep in mind.
Safe Kids Lancaster County, led by Lancaster General Health, holds free car-seat safety checks at various locations in Lancaster County throughout the year. Make sure your child's car seat is installed correctly. Learn more here.
- Car seats should never be purchased from yard sales or consignment shops. Only use a seat if you know its history and are 100% sure it has never been in an accident.
- Any seat that has been in an accident should be replaced.
- Never leave your child alone in a car — not even for a minute. While it may be tempting to dash out for a quick errand, the temperature inside your car can rise 20 degrees and cause heatstroke in the time it takes for you to run in and out of the store.
- Seat installation can be tricky for even the most adept parent. Here’s a quick car seat checklist to help you out. If you are having even the slightest trouble, questions or concerns, certified child passenger safety technicians are able to help or even double check your work. Here are some general guidelines:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. Previously, the AAP specified children should remain rear-facing at least to age 2; the new recommendation removes the specific age milestone. Pennsylvania law requires that children be appropriately secured.
- Children who have outgrown the rear-facing seat, should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible.
- All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their seat should use a belt positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. This typically happens when children reached 4’ 9” and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
- When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt, they should always use the lap and shoulder seat belts.
- All children younger than 13 years should be properly restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
- Be a role model. We know 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.