Safe Kids -- Car seats, boosters save children's lives
Most parents know that babies and toddlers need to be restrained in car seats — properly installed and adjusted — every time they ride in a car. Unfortunately, sometimes we don't do nearly as good a job protecting older kids, those who should be riding on booster seats. While babies and toddlers ride restrained more than 90 percent of the time, children ages 4 to 7 ride restrained only 73 percent of the time. That's a huge difference.
No one likes to think about tragedy, but a recent study shows that 4- to 8-year-olds not riding in booster seats are three times as likely to have an abdominal injury in a crash when compared to children in booster seats. A booster seat protects a child from serious spinal cord and abdominal injuries caused by improper seat-belt fit. The data also show that children are 40 percent more likely to be injured when riding in the front seat, compared to those seated in a back.
Kids who have outgrown car seats (which typically fit children up to 40 pounds), are safer riding on booster seats until they're at least 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh at least 80 pounds. Many children do not reach this point until age 10 or older.
How can you tell if your child should be in a booster seat? Do these simple tests when the child is sitting in the car without a booster:
* Have your child sit all the way back on the vehicle seat. Check to see if the knees bend at the seat edge. If they bend naturally, move on to the next step. If they do not, return to the booster seat.
* Buckle the lap and shoulder belts. Be sure the lap belt lies on the upper legs or hips. If it stays on the upper legs or thighs, move on to the next step. If it does not, return to the booster seat.
* Be sure the shoulder belt lies on the shoulder or collarbone. If it lies on the shoulder, move on to the next step. If it is on the face or neck, return to the booster seat. Do not place the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the child's back! In the event of a crash, this positioning can cause serious injury.
* Be sure your child can maintain that correct seating position for as long as you are in the car. If your child begins to slouch or shift positions so the safety belt contacts the face, neck or stomach, return your child to the booster seat until all these steps can be met.

Choosing a booster seat


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