|Snow Days: Good time to check child safety seats|
|Published Wednesday, February 19, 2014|
RALEIGH – North Carolinians spent the weekend shoveling out their cars from the unusual amount of snow that fell on the state late last week. While cars are parked, experts recommend making a child safety-seat check.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that child deaths in car crashes have declined by 43 percent over 10 years, but warned that work remains, because for one in three fatalities of kids ages 12 and under, the child was not properly restrained.
Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz, CDC Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, said parent education and car-seat distribution help make sure more children are buckled up properly, but North Carolina could do more with a stricter law.
"Child passenger-restraint laws that increase the age for car-seat or booster-seat use result in getting more children buckled up," Sauber-Schatz said.
The recommendation is a law to require child safety-seat use through age 8. North Carolina now requires that children ride in a booster until they weigh 80 pounds or turn 8, whichever comes first. The CDC reported that about 12 children die in car crashes each week in the U.S.
Health care providers also play a role in making sure children are safe in cars and trucks. Sauber-Schatz suggested having a conversation in the doctor's office.
"Physicians can counsel parents and caregivers at each well-child checkup to use age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats and seat belts on every trip," she said.
In general, the CDC recommends that all children sit in the back seat until age 13. Rear-facing car seats are for infants up to age 2. Front-facing seats are suitable from ages 2 to 5, and booster seats are to be used until a child has grown enough for a seat belt to fit properly across the chest and lap.
The full report, "CDC Vital Signs: Child Passenger Safety," is available at www.cdc.gov.
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