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Moose Lake, Minnesota

Keeping kids safe in vehicles

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Every day in America, too many children ride in car seats that have been installed incorrectly, or are riding in the wrong car seats for their ages and sizes. Even worse, many other children ride while completely unbuckled. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), two out of three car seats are misused.

During Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Week, Sept. 17-23, Mercy Hospital is emphasizing the importance of proper child safety restraint use to keep children safe while riding in a vehicle.

“Parents lead busy lives, but it’s critical not to put our schedules ahead of safety,” says Amanda Paull, Mercy CPS Technician.  “We need to take care of our most precious cargo, our children. Properly secure them in the appropriate child restraint and make sure to buckle up as well to set a good example.

“Every 33 seconds in 2015, a child under 13 was involved in a crash,” said she added. “Using car seats that are age- and size-appropriate is the best way to keep your children safe.” According to NHTSA, motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of children, and fatalities are on the rise. Car seats, booster seats, and seat belts can make all the difference.

Too often, parents move their children to the front seat before they should, which increases the risk of injury and death. The safest place for all kids under 13 is in the back seat. Also, according to NHTSA in 2015, about 25.8 percent of children 4 to 7 who should be riding in booster seats were prematurely moved to seat belts, and 11.6 percent were unbuckled altogether.

“It’s our job to keep our children safe,” Paull said. “Get your car seats checked. Make certain they’re installed correctly, and that your kids are in the right seats and are buckled in correctly. Even if you think your child is safe, check again, so you can be sure that your child is the safest he or she can be while traveling.”

NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible up to the top height or weight allowed by their particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing-only “infant” car seat, he/she should travel in a rear-facing “convertible” or all-in-one car seat. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing size limits, the child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat with harness, the child should ride in a booster seat until he/she is the right size to use a seat belt safely.

Mercy Hospital has been active in its role to keep children safe by providing all newborns with a free rear-facing infant car seat when they go home.  Mercy Birthing Center nurses have been trained as CPS Technicians and are qualified to instruct parents on properly installing car seat restraints. In addition, Mercy Hospital CPS Technicians conduct free child passenger safety clinics. For more information, call Mercy at 218-485-5521.