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Choosing the Right Car Seat Can Save Your Child's Life

Child safety seats are one of the best ways to protect a child in the event of a car accident. However, many parents don't understand how to choose the correct car seat or make sure it is installed correctly.

To that end, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has released new public safety announcements designed to educate parents about the importance of car seat safety. According to the NHTSA, car seats saved more than 8,900 children's lives between 1975 and 2008.

Car seats only work when parents choose the correct model for their child. There are different seats for each stage of a child's life. For example, babies should be placed in a rear facing seat, but front facing seats are better for toddlers.

However, the correct seat will mean nothing if it is not installed correctly. In a car accident, an incorrectly installed car seat will not properly restrain a child. In worse cases, it can come lose and cause serious personal injury.

After purchasing a new car seat, parents should always read the instruction and installation manual to make sure the device is properly installed. Further, parents should perform spot-checks every time their child gets in the car. Parents would be wise to look for the following issues:

  • For infant seats, make sure the base is secure and the carrier is firmly locked into the base.
  • For forward-facing toddler seats, ensure that the seat is secure and that it is properly anchored to the car's frame using the attached anchor strap
  • For older children's booster seats, check that the seat belt lays flat against the child's upper thighs and chest

The NHTSA is working with the Ad Council to ensure this message is spread far and wide. With proper education, more parents will be able to protect their children from the dangers of car accidents.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Transportation Secretary LaHood Urges Parents to 'Choose the Right Seat' for Children in Cars," Press Release, April 10, 2012.

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