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Examiner
  • St. Mary Medical Center's Phillis Bailey: Ensure children are safe as you travel during the holidays

  • Many of us are making plans for visiting family and friends over the holidays in the near future. One statistic to keep in mind when making those plans – car crashes are the leading cause of death among children from 3 to 14 years of age.

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  • Many of us are making plans for visiting family and friends over the holidays in the near future. One statistic to keep in mind when making those plans – car crashes are the leading cause of death among children from 3 to 14 years of age.
    I can't say it much better than Safe Kids USA, affiliated with the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, which certifies technicians to help ensure parents and their children are as safe as possible when on the road. Buckling up the right way on every ride is the single most important thing a family can do to stay safe in the car. But finding the safest way for each member of the family to ride can be confusing if you don't have the right information.
    For the best possible protection, keep your baby in a rear-facing child safety seat in a back seat for as long as possible – up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. Recent American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations urge parents to keep children sitting rear-facing through at least the second birthday. The old rule of "12 months and 20 pounds" many parents cite when turning their child forward-facing in the car is actually the minimum size and age requirement for that change.
    Select a car seat based on your child's age and size, choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time. Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturers instructions, read the vehicle owners manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or latch system and check height and weight limits. Child seats also have expiration dates. Don't use a seat past the manufacturers date, or six years, as the plastic components degrade during that time.
    Have your car seat checked by a currently certified child passenger safety technician to make sure it's properly installed. As a certified child passenger safety technician, I provide car seat checks and consultations at the Birthing Center at St. Mary's Medical Center by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call 816-655-5574. The Blue Springs police and fire departments will also check seats on an appointment basis, and beginning in March 2013, Cable Dahmer will be conducting inspections on the second Saturday of every other month.
    Remember these tips when installing a car seat:
    • Your car seat should not move more than one inch side to side or front to back. Grab the car seat at the safety belt path or latch path to test it.
    • Use a top tether if both your vehicle and car seat are equipped. Tethers limit the forward motion of your child's head in a crash. Many parents are concerned about legs. Always be most concerned about protection of the head. Almost all child deaths from accidents are due to head injuries.
    Page 2 of 2 - When a child is facing rear, straps should be at or below the shoulder. When facing front, straps should be above the shoulder. Watch older kids, as they may try to put their arm through the shoulder strap to keep it away from their heads.
    Do not allow children to play with seat belts. Treat them as you would any rope or cord.
    Restrain all children in age- and weight-appropriate child restraints when they are in a car with the motor running. This will limit access to power windows.
    Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.
    The NHTSC recommends no after-market add-ons or fabrics to child car seats as they are not as flame resistant, and may interfere with the safety of the seat. Zip-in fabrics are particularly not safe in the event of an accident.
    One of the bigger mistakes I routinely see is parents who want to bundle children up before being placed in the car seat. They complain about heavy clothes making it hard to get kids in the seat. I recommend placing blankets and coverings on top so they can be removed in case of an accident.
    Finally, ensure all occupants in your car are wearing their seat belts correctly every time! Children learn from adult role models.
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