This past January, a study published in Health Affairs compared child mortality rates in 20 wealthy, autonomous countries since 1960. It revealed that over the last fifty years, the rate of childhood death decreased in all nations except the United States. Part of the problem is the mortality rate of children involved in car accidents. Sadly enough, these incidents are quite preventable. Last year, NPR reported that 43% of children who died from car crashes were improperly restrained.
CCRC is a huge proponent of child safety and our “A Matter of Minutes” initiative sheds light on the common mistakes parents/caregivers make when it comes to child safety in motorized vehicles. Here are ten tips and guidelines, in accordance with California State Transportation Laws, meant to keep your child safe.
1. Adhere to the age and measurement guidelines below.
2. Never leave children alone in or near a car.
3. If you see a child locked inside a car – call 911!
4. Teach children not to play in or near a car, even in driveways and parking lots.
5. Keep cars locked and keys away from children.
6. Check cars and their trunks immediately if a child is missing.
7. Check that all small passengers have left the car once it’s parked.
8. Do not use any decorative car seat items that were not included in the original packaging of the car seat.
9. When strapping your child in, make sure the chest strap is armpit level and the straps should be tight enough to pass the pinch test. Watch this video on how to conduct pinch test.
10. You’ll need to decide on using either the seat belt or lower anchors to secure your car seat. Both are safe, but don’t use them both at the same time. Once your child is forward facing, it is important to use the tether with the seat belt or lower anchors.
Car Seat Safety Tips: In Compliance With California Law
• Children under 2 years of age shall ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds OR is 40 or more inches tall. The child shall be secured in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer of the car seat. California Vehicle Code Section 27360.
• Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.
• Children who are 8 years of age OR have reached 4’9” in height may be secured by a booster seat, but at a minimum must be secured by a safety belt. (California Vehicle Code Section 27363.)
• Passengers who are 16 years of age and over are subject to California’s Mandatory Seat Belt law.
• All children under 13 should ride in the back seat, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Safety Tips Courtesy of California Highway Patrol
Update as of September 2018: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children remain in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height specified by the manufacturer of carseat. Previously, the AAP specified children should remain rear-facing at least to age 2; the new recommendation removes the specific age milestone. Please adhere to the weight and height guidelines specified in respective car seat manual, regardless of age range.
For more safety tips, please visit Safe Kids Worldwide. They have various tips on buying the right car seats, how to install a car seat, registering your car seat, and more. In the past, CCRC has had car seats available for donation, based on availability. Please consult with your case worker/specialist for donation opportunities and more information.