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February 14, 2006 > Car Seat Safety Starts with Parents

Car Seat Safety Starts with Parents

Your Local, Community Hospital Offers Free Car Seat Checks

What better way to celebrate your children than by keeping them safe? A vital step in protecting your children is making sure they are properly restrained at all times while traveling in the car to avoid injury in the case of an accident.

Join the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Ad Council and others around Valentineís Day this year to commemorate Child Passenger Safety Week (Feb. 12-18). Get started by finding out first-hand how to properly install your childís car seat. At Washington Hospital, community members can access free monthly car seat check-ups to help them ensure their children are riding as safely as possible while in the car.

"Car seats are more difficult than people perceive," says Ruth Traylor, Washington Hospitalís Director of Community Outreach. "Itís important for parents to read the instructions that come with the seat. I find that as many as 90 percent of the car seats I check have been installed incorrectly."

In addition to attending a free car seat check at Washington Hospital, Traylor recommends parents turn to the Internet for a variety of resources, including the NHTSAís Web site, and the National Safety Belt Coalitionís (NSBC) Web site,

"All children who are under the age of 6 or under 60 lbs. have to be restrained by a child safety seat," Traylor notes. "Itís the safest way for children to travel in a vehicle."

Safety first
Traylor adds that in some instances, itís important to remember even older children may need a booster seat to fit in a seat belt correctly. Some parents or caregivers may regard booster seats as a hassle to use or a pain to convince their children to use. But itís important to remember that protecting the ones you love means getting past the temporary complaints and perceived hassles.

Child passenger safety doesnít stop with parents, Traylor says.
"Parents, grandparents -- anybody that may be transporting your child -- should know how to install the seat," she says. "Keep the instructions with the car seat -- because if for any reason if you canít transport your child, then the caregiver has access to the instructions. For example, if your friend is going to pick up your child from day care, they will have access to instructions with the car seat."

Caregiver education leads to safer kids
Since the Free Car Seat Checkup programís inception two years ago, Traylor and her staff have performed more than 200 car seat checks, averaging 12 a month.

The program started when Washington Hospital noticed a need for new moms to learn proper car seat installation before taking their babies home from the hospital.

"Most everyone is very appreciative that there is a free program in the community that provides this service," Traylor says.

To learn more about the Free Car Seat Checkup at Washington Hospital, call (800) 963-7070 for your free Health & Wellness Catalog.

For more information about Child Passenger Safety Week and the proper use of booster seats, visit

Child Passenger Safety Tips

  1. Use rear-facing infant seats in the back seat from birth to at least one year of age and at least 20 pounds;

  2. Use forward-facing toddler seats in the back seat from age one and 20 pounds to about age four and 40 pounds;
  3. Use booster seats in the back seat from about age four to at least age eightóunless the child is 4í 9" or taller; and
  4. Use safety belts in the back seat at age eight or older or taller than 4í 9".
    It is imperative to remember all children under age 13 should ride in the back seat.
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