Wednesday, September 22, 2010
From the desk of Dr. Nithya Sunder..........
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 150 children under the age of 19 years are treated in emergency rooms every hour for injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes. In 2008 alone, 968 children under the age of 14 died due to injuries from motor vehicle crashes- about 2-3 kids every day.
The best thing you can do to decrease your child’s risk for severe injury (including whiplash and internal damage) and death is to make sure your child is properly restrained in the car based on age, height, and weight requirements. Published studies reveal that child safety seats reduce the risk of death in passenger cars by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4 years. According to researchers at the children's Hospital of Philadelphia, booster seats for children ages 4 to 7 reduce injury risk by 59% compared to seat belts alone. Please remember that the seats are only effective if used correctly- studies show that 72% of nearly 3,500 car and booster seats were misused in a way that could potentially increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash.
Infants under the age of 1 year and under 20 pounds should be in a rear-facing child car seat in the rear seat. If your child has outgrown their infant car seat based on the limits written on the label, you can transition to a convertible car seat. This can be used rear-facing until your child meets BOTH the age and weight requirements to transition to a front-facing seat. Keep in mind that small studies show that keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat past the legal requirement until their legs are no longer comfortable does provide additional safety.
Children should stay in forward-facing car seats in the rear seat until they weigh 40 pounds and are about 4 years old. As far as height, the tops of theirs ears should be at or below the top of the seat and the tops of their shoulders should be at or below the shoulder strap slot. Kids still need a 5-point harness restraint until they are at least 40 pounds.
Between 40 pounds and 70-80 pounds and until 4’9” (57 in), your child needs to use a booster seat if the rear seats in your car have lap and shoulder belts. Booster seats make sure that the seatbelt passes from your child’s shoulder to the opposite hip and across the hipbones. Without a booster seat, during motor vehicle collision the seatbelt can push against your child’s neck and abdomen instead of the bones and cause serious internal injuries to the abdomen, spleen, and carotid vessels. While Illinois law states children under age 8 must use a booster seat, the above height and weight recommendations ensure safety for older children under 80 pounds and 57 inches. According to Illinois law parents are responsible for providing child safety seats to anyone who transports their child.
If your child uses a combination car seat, the weight requirement might say it is approved for use between 20 and 100 pounds, but remember that it should be used as a 5-point harness until 40 pounds then as a booster seat. Check the weight limits on your seat. For help deciding between convertible and combination car seats and high back or backless booster seats, visit http://www.thecarseatlady.com/ for tips. If your child’s head is higher than the rear seat you do need a high back booster seat to prevent whiplash
For older kids and teens remember that under Illinois law all kids under 16 should be in seatbelts. If the driver is 16 or 17, all passengers under 19 must wear seatbelts. We do recommend seat belt use for all passengers of all ages. All kids 12 and under should be in the rear seat.
If you want to know if your child’s car seat or booster seat is safe and properly installed these are your options:
1- On Saturday, September 25th the NHTSA is sponsoring a National Seat Check. Visit www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS to find a Child Safety Seat Inspection Station where a certified technician can evaluate your seat.
2- Call your local fire department and ask if you can make an appointment for a car seat safety inspection. If they do not have a certified car seat inspector, you may find a location near your community by going to http://www.seatcheck.org/
For more information, visit:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- http://www.cdc.gov/
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration- http://www.nhtsa.gov/
Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles- http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/
Safe Kids USA- http://www.safekids.org/
The Car Seat Lady- http://www.thecarseatlady.com/ -includes pictures and diagrams of proper positioning
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety- http://www.iihs.org/