This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week, which serves as an important reminder for all parents to ensure that their child is in the proper seating arrangement when they take them out on the road.
A 2017 report published by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas confirmed that the leading causes of child death in the United States are motor vehicle crashes and unintentional injury. While you unfortunately cannot control if a negligent driver hits you on the highway, you can control how safe your child is in the situation. All you need to do is follow these safety trips before you and your kid hit the road.
The right seats for the right age
There are three stages where your kid requires a child seat before they can wear adult seat belts. Once your child is around 10 years old or over 4 feet and 9 inches, they will be big enough to wear seat belts without an additional seat below them. Before this, there are three phases they must go through as they age:
- During their first two years, you must place your infant in a rear-facing seat up to the rear-facing height or weight limit of the seat. You need to make sure the chest clips are even secure with your infant’s armpits and that the straps are snug and tight enough to keep them well-restrained without restricting their breathing.
- After they are more than two years old, they must ride in a forward-facing safety seat with a five-point harness until they outgrow it. You should also use the car’s seat belt or lower anchors to keep the safety seat in place.
- Once they around four years old, they need a booster seat with the adult seat belt until they grow big enough for the main seats.
You should pay attention to the instructions of the seat manufacturer to know when you can change seats for your child. Once they grow out of it, Texas forbids children from sitting in the front seat until they are 13 years old.
The consequences of improper restraining
Most seat manufacturers note that you should not have too much slack to the point where you can simply pinch it off at the baby’s shoulder and have it come undone. Too much slack means that your child will not have enough restraint to stay in place during a crash. The impact can toss their smaller bodies around and leave them severely damaged.
You should also avoid keeping the straps too tight, as it could serve as a possible choking hazard for your little one. Pay close attention to the seat’s height and weight limits to ensure that you are not placing your child in something too small for them. Not adhering to Texas’ child seat belt laws could result in fines and other serious legal consequences. For the sake of yourself and your child, you need to pay close attention to the seat’s instructions to keep them safe.