Keeping your child safe in the car
Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable death and injury to children in the U.S. Using the appropriate car seat and using it correctly decreases the risk of death or serious injury by more than 70%. Kathryn Stephenson, MD, shared some tips to help you keep your children safe while on the road.
- Stay in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible. Refer to the owner’s manual for weight and height limits specific to your car seat. However, keep in mind that South Carolina state law requires children two years and younger to ride in a rear-facing car seat.
- Stay in a forward-facing car seat as long as possible. Once a child graduates to a forward-facing car seat, the child should use the car seat until the child reaches the weight and height limits of the seat. Some car seats are approved for children up to 65 pounds or more. Refer to the owner’s manual for information about your specific car seat.
- Use a booster seat until the child is 4 feet, 9 inches tall. A booster seat should be used until the child is 4 feed, 9 inches tall or until the shoulder belt and lap belt fit appropriately. The shoulder belt fits appropriately when it crosses the shoulder and the middle of the chest without crossing the side of the neck or throat. The lap belt should cross the thighs, not the belly.
- Never use a belt positioning device. These devices do not meet safety standards and can damage the seat belt.
- Keep kids in the back seat. The back seat is the safest seat in the car. All children should ride in the back seat at least until the age of 13.
- Remove coats. Thick coats prevent car seats and seat belts from working properly.
- Visit a car seat inspection station. Go to scdhec.gov/carseats to find a station near you. Certified technicians will inspect your car seat and show you how to correctly install and use it.
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