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Tips for keeping your child safe in the car

By Stacy Drury County Extension Agent

Even though the majority of parents buckle up their children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts, most do not use them correctly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly three out of four child safety seats are not used properly, which is a grave risk when traveling.
Correctly securing your children properly in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats - in the back seat of a vehicle - is the most effective way to protect them in the event of a crash.
Nearly 40 percent of children killed in car crashes were unrestrained - they were not in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts.
For a child safety seat to do its job correctly, it has to be:
• Appropriate for your child's age and size,
• Installed properly in your vehicle, and
• Adjusted to fit your child securely.
Parents are reminded to keep children rear-facing until at least age two or until the weight and height limit of their rear-facing convertible seat, usually 40 pounds or more.
Also, children should stay in a 5-point harness system until they are ready to ride in a booster seat. Booster seats are for children who are at least age four, weigh 40 pounds or more, and are mature enough to sit still in a booster.
Finally, use a booster seat until a seat belt fits your child correctly. This is usually at 4'9" tall and sometime between ages 8 and 12 years old. The average child reaches 4'9" at age 11.
The law requires all children under 8, unless taller than 4'9", to be in a child safety seat system, which includes traditional child safety seats with harnesses and booster seats.
Remember: All child passengers under age 13 should ride securely restrained in the back seat, where they are safest -- every trip, every time!