Car Seat Safety
A couple of weeks ago, here in Las Vegas, a 9 year old was killed and their 6 year old sibling was seriously injured while riding in their minivan. All of the seats had been removed from the back - so not only were the kids not in child safety seats, they were not restrained AT ALL. I immediately felt sick to my stomach when I saw this on the news. This is a tragedy that was totally preventable.
Last week the news also showed a viral video which was meant to be cute - it was a big brother, probably around 5 years old, lecturing his little sister (who was probably 4) about holding a boys hand during lunch. They were in a sedan and I immediately noticed the same thing - not only were the kids not in car seats, but they were not even wearing seat belts. I will not ever understand why someone would risk the lives of their children like this.
In another story that I saw circulating on Facebook, a woman posted about how she was in a major car accident with her 2 kids riding in the car. Her SUV was totaled and she showed a picture of the 2 car seats that the kids had been riding in, which were totally unscathed. The seats did their job and protected the kids, who would've been seriously injured or killed otherwise. These seats aren't meant to be a nuisance (I know it can be a pain in the butt to get your kid in and out), but they are meant to save lives.
Why are we all in such a rush for our kids to grow up? I ask myself this daily as I see people posting pictures of their young kids forward facing in car seats, with loose straps, big jackets on, etc. I know that it can't be intentional, because I can't imagine anyone knowingly putting their child in danger, so that leaves me to assume that a lot of folks are misinformed about car seat safety and laws. To me, it would just be common sense that everyone in your vehicle should wearing at least a seat belt. An accident is called that for reason, because nobody plans on having one. You may be a safe driver, but you can't always control those around you.
Unfortunately, Nevada law regarding car seats is a bit ambiguous and not specific enough. It states:
This makes it seem like it doesn't matter whether the child is forward or rear facing, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I follow a group on Facebook called Car Seats for the Littles and they provide a ton of great information and advice for parents. You can also view their website here. They follow what is called "best practice" theory and some important things I've learned from them are:
- Child should be rear facing until AT LEAST the age of 2 (this is also law in most states)
- Chest clip is fastened at armpit level
- Accessories like strap covers and infant inserts can only be used if they came with the seat (no after market accessories)
- Thick coats/blankets cannot be between the child and the straps of the seat
- The seat should be properly installed - it should not move more than 1 inch in any direction
- The straps should be tightened so that you are unable to pinch (at the collar bone area) any slack between your thumb and forefinger
- In the rear facing position, the straps should come from just below the shoulders. While in the forward facing position, they should come from just above the shoulders (unless the seats instructions state otherwise)
It is best and safest to leave your child rear facing in their seat as long as possible. A great quote I read was "the safety of a child should never be compromised for the convenience of the caregiver." We started out with an infant seat, which has a weight limit of up to 35 pounds.
Once Rosslyn outgrows that, we bought 2 convertible car seats (the Graco 3 in 1 Extend to Fit), which offer a higher weight limit (50 pounds) for rear facing, so that we may keep her that way as long as possible.
This seat should last us quite a few years because it has a higher weight limit forward facing (65 pounds) and then also turns into a high back booster seat as well. I've heard people say that they are worried about their child breaking their legs because they hit the back seat while rear facing. It has been proven that this isn't accurate - more kids break their legs while forward facing and can also experience much more serious injuries as well. I would feel absolutely horrible if something happened to Rosslyn, especially if it were something that I could've prevented.
Another great website with a lot of helpful information is www.safekidsclarkcounty.org. They provide checklists for different aged kids, which tells you what type of seat they should be in and whether they should be forward or rear facing. The safety of our children is so important! I sincerely hope anyone reading this does their own research on this subject. I would hate to see more stories about babies dying in car accidents. It's important to remember that these seats must be used all of the time - it doesn't matter if you are just driving 1 block or on a major road trip - you never know what is going to happen! A great quote that I think is applicable here is:
It's never too late to double check your seat installation, tighten those straps, or turn that seat back to rear facing. The lives of your littles could depend on you!