Friday, June 27, 2008

Car Seat Awareness!

“We’re only going around the corner…”

“Sure, you can fit in, just sit on her lap…”

“Why don’t you double buckle…”

“Yeah, she can sit in a regular seat since it is such a short ride…”

I know all these lines. I’ve used them all too many times.Especially here in Nigeria we don't really see the need for Car Seats.Hence the need for creating the awareness through this article.

One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when riding in a vehicle. Each year thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car safety seats helps keep children safe. But with so many different car safety seats on the market, it’s no wonder many parents find this overwhelming.

The type of seat your child needs depends on several things including age, size, and type of vehicle. To be sure your child is using the most appropriate seat, read on.

For starters, no one seat is the "best" or "safest." The best seat is the one that fits your child's size, is correctly installed, and is used properly every time you drive. Keep the following in mind:

* Don't decide on a car seat by price alone. A higher price does not mean the seat is safer or easier to use. All car safety seats available for sale in the United States must meet government safety standards.
* When you find a seat you like, try it out. Put your child in it and adjust the harnesses and buckles. Make sure it fits properly and securely in your car.
* Keep in mind that pictures or displays of car safety seats may not show them being used the right way.
* Always use a car safety seat. Start with your baby's first ride home from the hospital.
* Never place a child in a rear-facing car safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger air bag.
* All children younger than 13 years are safest in the back seat.
* Be a good role model—always wear your seat belt. This will help your child form a lifelong habit of buckling up.
* Remember that each car safety seat is different. Read and keep the instructions that came with your seat handy, and always follow them.
* Read your car owner's manual for information about installing your car safety seat.

Some facts…

* Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children between the ages of 3 - 14.
* Car crashes kill more children each year then all childhood diseases combined.
* Most fatal crashes occur at speeds less than 40 mph and within 25 miles of home.

Car crashes kill more children each year then all childhood diseases combined. Any item that is not tied down in your car, be it a book, your gym shoes, a sippy cup, soda can, ice scrapper, CD case, tissue box, etc., poses a significant danger. When you are in a crash, everything inside your vehicle that is not restrained is going to move at the speed you were traveling before the crash until something causes it to stop. If that "something" is your head or another part of your body, it can do serious damage. The same goes for unrestrained passengers. An unrestrained passenger can be thrown into a restrained passenger and cause serious or fatal injuries.

...that if you are in an accident you should replace your car seat?

In a crash, a car seat withstands a great deal of force. If you are in an accident and your car is damaged in any way, your seat should be replaced. Why? There may be unseen damage or weakening in the seat. In another crash, the seat may fail causing your child harm. Many times insurance will cover the cost of a new car seat. It is also a good idea to replace any seatbelts that were in use at the time of the crash. Seatbelts are a "one-crash" item. They become stretched and will not offer proper protection in another crash.

If your seat was involved in a crash, it should be destroyed so that it is unusable. Cut the harness straps and use a sledgehammer or an axe to break the shell apart.

...that car seats expire?

Car seats should be replaced every 6 years. Why? Car seats are mainly made of plastic. After being subjected to the elements over time, they will start to weaken. In a crash the seat may fail and leave your child in danger.

...that you should never purchase or use a secondhand seat with an unknown history?

While it may be very tempting to purchase a car seat at a garage sale or off e-bay, it isn't a good idea. If the seat doesn't come from trusted family or friends, you cannot be assured of the seat's history. It could have been in an accident or otherwise mistreated. It is advisable to order a new harness for any used seat (that isn't your own from a previous child) as the harness may have been treated with chemicals or heat, which weakens it.

Treating the harness straps with heat or chemicals can cause the straps to break down and weaken, causing them to break or tear in a crash. If your straps need to be washed, follow the manufacturer's guidelines in the instruction manual. If you have treated the harness straps in a way that isn't advised by the manufacturer, you may want to consider ordering a replacement harness from the manufacturer.

Lastly, this article is just a brief overview of Car Seat Safety, meant to stimulate and rekindle your awareness of how crucial this topic is. There is a wealth of information on the internet to guide you through purchasing and proper use of car seats.

Safe Driving with your children!

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