Child Passenger Safety Week culminates with free seat checks on Sept. 22
Car crashes are the number-one killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the United States. In 2011, 12 children in Missouri under the age of 8 were killed, and 1,778 were injured in traffic crashes.
During Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 16-22, parents and child caregivers are encouraged to participate in a safety seat check up and find out from experts how best to protect their kids. The annual campaign includes education on proper safety seat installation and use as well as increased law enforcement cracking down on Missouri’s child safety seat law violators.
The wide range of car seat models on the market today leaves more than a few parents confused. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study revealed that nearly 75 percent of parents don’t know how to use child safety restraints properly. Child Passenger Safety Technicians in Missouri report an even higher misuse rate.
“Appropriate car seats are very important for kids’ safety. Missouri law requires all children under eight to be in an appropriate child safety seat or booster seat, unless they are at least 80 pounds or 4 feet 9 inches tall,” said Leanna Depue, executive committee chair for the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. “It’s also very important to change seats to accommodate their growing bodies.”
And car seats should never be passed down from family to family.
According to Jackie Spainhower, the Northwest Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety Regional coordinator, car seats expire.
“Many parents don’t realize that using an expired car seat can compromise their child’s safety,” Spainhower said. “Unless you have specific directions from the manufacturer, the car seat label or the manual that state otherwise, you should stop using a car seat after six years. Expired car seats should be destroyed so no one uses the seat thinking it’s still safe.”
Car seats have a rough life. The materials in them expand when temperatures inside vehicles soar well above 120 degrees in the sun and way down below freezing in the winter. They take a pounding from little bouncing bottoms – and excited, jumping feet – and are schlepped none too gently from vehicle to vehicle. Hairline cracks can form – too tiny for most to see – yet they can compromise the seat and cause it to perform poorly during a crash.
To ensure that the child you love is traveling around in a what is truly a safety seat, technicians throughout Missouri will provide on-site car seat checks and education on Saturday, Sept. 22. To find a safety seat check event in West County, visit seatcheck.org. For more information visit saveMOlives.com.
“Properly securing your child in a safety seat is about more than following the law though,” Depue said. “Safety seats prevent serious injuries and could save your child’s life.