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BIRMINGHAM – September is National Child Passenger Safety Month, and leaders with Safe Kids Alabama at Children’s of Alabama want to remind all caregivers about the importance of making sure children are properly secured when riding in a vehicle.
Leslie Brown, CRNP, CPSTI, Safe Kids Coordinator in the Health Education and Safety Center at Children’s of Alabama, says tragedies can be avoided by taking the right precautions.
“We know that year after year we are losing children and having life-altering injuries because of car crashes,” Brown said. “Several things that we find after those crashes are preventable, so we want to talk to parents, caregivers, baby sitters, anyone who might be transporting children about how to do so safely to try to prevent some of those deaths and life-altering injuries.”
For caregivers who are not sure if they are securing their child properly, Safe Kids Alabama offers car seat safety checks. They’re currently making them available by phone with a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) or virtually through the Help Lightning app.
“Because of COVID safety precautions and the restrictions of having families come on campus to get their car seats checked, we now have gone to this virtual option,” Brown said. “Sometimes parents just need someone to guide them through it through a phone conversation. However, if they need more help, our CPSTs can share installation videos with the caregiver or offer them the virtual Help Lightning option. Help Lightning is a face-to-face virtual reality platform giving the caregiver an opportunity to work with a CPST, checking for correct installation of the car seat and appropriate child harnessing.”
Brown says the virtual option has also made Safe Kids Alabama’s services more accessible to caregivers in other parts of the state.
“We can do these calls with somebody in south Alabama, north Alabama. Anyone that wants to reach out to us can get this virtual car seat check and/or talk to a child passenger safety technician without having to physically be here,” she said.
Brown said it’s also important for caregivers to model good behavior for children by wearing seatbelts themselves every time they get in a vehicle.
CAR SEAT TIPS AND INFORMATION
TYPES OF CAR SEATS
When harnessing a child in the car seat, it is important to make sure the harness is snug, with no jackets or bulky clothing between the harness and the child. You should make sure the chest clip is at armpit level, which will keep it on the child and prevent them from being ejected in the event of a crash. As your child grows, the proper placement of the shoulder straps changes. On rear-facing car seats, the shoulder straps should come through the car seat slots at or just below your child’s shoulders. On forward-facing seats, the shoulder straps should be at or just above the shoulders.
When installing a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat, you can use the lower anchors or the seatbelt, but Brown says you should not use both. As a child gets older and weighs more, parents need to read the forward-facing car seat’s instructions, as there may be limits for using lower anchors. Brown also recommends doing the ‘Inch Test.’ She says a properly-installed car seat should not move more than one-inch front to back or side to side while pulling on the car seat at the car seat belt path. The belt path will be labeled on the car seat or infant-only base. Convertible seats have two belt paths: one for rear-facing use and one for forward-facing use. Booster seats do not have a belt path.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Visit childrensal.org/childpassengersafety or https://ucsg.safekids.org
Call: 205-638-9900 or 1-800-504-9768