Is your child in the proper car seat? Are they buckled in properly? Should they face forward or backward? There are lots of questions when it comes to child passenger safety….
All people in the car (from birth to age 100+) should be properly secured when the vehicle is moving. The best way to teach your child good habits and show them the importance of seat belts is by wearing your belt EVERY TIME. Even if you are only going to the end of the street to pick up milk from the store, everyone should be wearing a restraint.
Laws and recommendations are usually based on a child’s age and weight. Let’s look at Pennsylvania in detail:
- ALL children under age 2 years must be in a rear-facing car seat, preferably in the back seat of the car, away from any air bags.
- Age 2-4 years: still in back seat. It is recommended that children stay rear-facing as long as possible, until they exceed the height and weight limits for their specific car seat. It is much safer to have children rear-facing with their feet and legs over the sides or up on the seat than to turn them around too soon.
- Age 4-8 years: still in back seat. Once your child is forward-facing, they should stay in a 5-point harness with high back as long as they meet the requirement for the manufacturer’s weight and height limits. Once they outgrow this seat, they should remain in a booster seat to ensure that the car’s seat belts fit properly.
- Age 8-12 years: still in back seat. Children should remain in a booster seat until they are big enough to fit the car’s standard seat belts properly. A properly fitted seat belt lies across the shoulders and chest and should not cross the neck or face.
- Age 12+: the back seat is still the safest place for all passengers, but children over 12 years of age who fit properly in a seat belt can sit in the front seat.
Now that winter is here and the cold weather is upon us, it’s a good time to also review how to travel safely in car seats with winter wear. Bulky coats and snow suits should NOT be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. If involved in an accident, the padding from the coat and flatten easily, allowing for extra room underneath the harness and allowing the child to slip through and be injured. Dress in thin layers and wear mittens, hats, and warm socks; put a warm blanket or the big coat over the harness.
More questions about car seats? Feel free to give your primary office a call. Pediatric Practices also has a certified child passenger safety technician that can help answer any questions you may have.