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RBC | After a nearly record-setting cold spring, warm weather is here, and families are packing up the car for summer road trips. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that only one in four children is properly secured when riding in a vehicle, putting the majority at severe risk in the event of a crash. Car Seats Colorado, a joint effort between the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), are offering families some top tips on staying safe on the roads this summer.
Reducing the rate and severity of crashes for young people is part of CDOT’s Whole System — Whole Safety strategy, which aims to reduce fatalities and injuries and “Bring everyone home safely.”
Here are some top tips to keep your kids safe and secure in the car:
1. Ensure your children are in the right size car seats.
Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed and that any children riding with you are in the correct car seat, booster seat or seat belt that is appropriate for their size. All passengers in your vehicle should be buckled up on every trip, the entire time.
2. Make sure straps are snug.
A common mistake parents make with car seats is ensuring that straps are tight enough. Often, car seat straps have too much slack and kids are too loose in the car seats. Use the “pinch test” to check—if you can pinch some of the strap between your fingers, it’s too loose.
3. Place kids in the safest location in the car.
Parents are often pressured by kids once they hit the tween years to move to the front seat. The safest place for them is in the back seat until the age of 13.
4. Don’t unbuckle restless kids.
Instead of giving them a “break” from the car seat, keep them busy. To alleviate demands for restroom breaks that are really signs of boredom and restlessness, be prepared with books, games, music and comfort items. Snacks and movies can help keep them calm for a little more time.
5. Don’t turn the car seat forward because you want your child to see the road.
Some parents feel bad that their infants don’t get to face forward to see them during long trips. A child’s age, height, weight and physical development, as well as the car seat manufacturer’s recommendations, should be considered before you ever turn a car seat forward or move your child to the next type of car seat. If you are confused, visit CarSeatsColorado.com for a list of inspection stations across the state.
6. Don’t attach toys or aftermarket add-ons to the car seat.
Toys, cup holders, rear-seat mirrors or anything else not originally included with the car seat can act as a projectile during a crash. Keep the seat and surrounding area free from clutter.
7. Be sure to attach the car seat base to the seat of the car.
It may sound obvious, but some parents, especially those with two-piece car seats, forget to secure the base first. Double-check all car seats are properly attached before hitting the road this summer.
8. Never leave your child in the car unattended.
In minutes, temperatures can rise to fatal levels in Colorado’s summer sun and heat. Don’t take the chance.
About Car Seats Colorado:
Car Seats Colorado provides education and resources to help parents ensure their children are riding safely, as well as recycling programs for used car seats and training courses for safety technicians. Car Seats Colorado is comprised of the CSP, CDOT, local car seat technicians, law enforcement, emergency services and other professionals who are dedicated to implementing child passenger safety programs. Learn more at CarSeatsColorado.com.
Special to the Herald Times