If you’re a parent, you know how stressful it can be simply getting your little ones in the car. What seems easy to adults – jump in, sit down and ride – often is very complex for kids. After all, regardless of the length of the trip, it’s likely they’re going to need food, drink and probably some form of entertainment along the way. And while each of those things seems crucial, there’s nothing as crucial as their safety. As your kids continue to grow, how they are secured in your vehicle can prevent them from injury or even death in a motor vehicle accident. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages one to 12, and according to Safe Kids Worldwide, 3,116 children died in motor vehicle accidents in the United States in 2012. To protect your kids, it is important to make sure they are in the correct type of seat, that the seat is installed in the correct place in the vehicle, and that it’s properly secured every time they are in your vehicle.
Blount County Community Health Initiative’s SAFE Blount County team representative, certified child passenger safety technician and Blount County Fire Department Lt. Tim Ogle explained, “It’s important to make sure that you wait until the child is the correct age and weight to change from rear-facing infant seats to forward-facing toddler seats,” he said. “The same goes for transitioning to booster seats, and then to seat belts. This ensures that you are maximizing safety for your child for as long as possible,” he explained.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends the following guidelines for age-appropriate child safety seats:
- Rear-facing infant seats are recommended for children from birth through age one, and while they weigh 20 pounds or less. Use a rear seat, if available.
- Forward-facing toddler seats are recommended for children from age one through age three, and if they weigh more than 20 pounds. Again, use a rear seat, if available
- Booster seats are recommended for children age four through age eight, and if they are less than 4’9” tall. Again, use a rear seat, if available
- Safety belts are appropriate for children ages nine through 12, and once they’re over 4’9” tall. Rear seats are recommended, if available
Blount Memorial Foundation and Community Outreach project manager and staff coordinator for SAFE Blount County Jessica Stith Belitz said it also is crucial to make sure that the child restraint is installed correctly, and that the child is properly secured in that restraint. “According to a NHTSA study, three out of four children are not as secure as they should be in vehicles because the car seat is not being used correctly,” Belitz said. “If you have any questions, want to make sure you installed or are using the seat correctly, or need someone to help you install the seat, there are multiple technicians available to help you in Blount County,” she added.
“Adults should make sure they buckle up every time they are in a vehicle, as well, to protect themselves and set a good example for children in the vehicle,” Ogle said. “Also, make sure to secure toys or loose objects in the vehicle, as they can injure your child during a crash,” he explained.
Installation and checks are available through local police and fire departments, as well as SAFE Blount County. The Blount County Sheriff’s Office and Blount County Fire Department will host a child safety seat clinic on Friday, Sept. 25 from 4-7 p.m. at the Blount County Justice Center. No appointments are necessary.
For more information on setting up an appointment for an installation or check on another date, contact Belitz at 865-977-5745, or call your local police or fire department. Additional information can be found at: