This week is National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s Child Passenger Safety Week. The focus of the week is on two important issues: child car seats and leaving kids in hot cars.
According to NHTSA, most parents are confident that their child car seats are installed correctly. Almost half — 46% — are wrong.
This Saturday, Sept. 26, is National Seat Check Saturday. Certified child passenger safety technicians around the country will be on hand at events to offer instruction to parents and caregivers about the installation of their car seats. Also, many police and fire departments offer walk-in help with installing car seats.
Every state in the union, Washington, D.C., and all U.S. territories require children to be secured in appropriate car seats or booster seats. The requirement generally lasts until age nine. However, for safety, most kids should remain in car seats or booster seats, in the rear seat of the vehicle, at least through age 12.
The child car seat you choose must be appropriate to both your child’s age and size. If you are shopping for a new seat, you can search NHTSA’s “right seat” campaign page for an appropriate seat based on your child’s date of birth, height and weight.
Familiarize yourself with the four types of restraint systems: rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, booster seats, and adult seat belts. Keep your child in their current seat as long as they still meet the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. Never try to “graduate” your child to a new seat too early.
Check the seat’s manual to ensure you understand the seat’s height and weight limits. Install the seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Register your car seat with the manufacturer so you will be notified if the seat is recalled or a safety advisory is issued. You can also sign up with NHTSA to get recall notices emailed to you.
Use your child safety seat or booster seat every time.
Hot cars are still a danger
According to Consumer Reports testing, it does not need to be hot for there to be danger to children or pets. When it was 61 degrees F outside, the temperature in a closed car reached a dangerous 105 degrees F in just an hour.
Although summer is over, there is still a chance your child could be injured or killed in a hot car. People do forget that their children are in the car. Other times, kids sneak into cars without their caregivers knowing it.
NHTSA says that 54% of hot car deaths happen because someone forgot their child was in the car. Fifty-two kids died in 2019 because they were forgotten or gained access to a vehicle.
Remember NHTSA’s campaign: Park. Look. Lock. When you park your car, always visually inspect every area of the car where a child could be. Once you have verified that no children are in the car, be sure to lock your vehicle so that kids won’t get in later.
If you have trouble remembering to check the back seats, put something there that you will not forget, such as a purse or your shoes.
Keep in mind that you may not be using your car as frequently these days, especially if you are working from home. Be sure to lock your car whenever it is not in use and keep the keys out of children’s reach.
Bystanders should call 9-11 if they see a child alone in a vehicle.