January 5, 2013

Crash highlights importance of properly securing children

One Maine expert says most children aren't properly secured in their car seats.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Child safety experts say Thursday's crash in Raymond highlights the importance of properly securing a child in a car seat, and securing the seat to the car.

Suzanne Grace, the state coalition coordinator for Safe Kids Maine, said traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children.

While most children who get ejected in crashes aren't restrained, some children get ejected from car seats that are improperly fastened, she said.

In fact, Grace said, most children aren't properly secured in their car seats. Some ride in seats that are inappropriate for their size or the vehicle, and sometimes the seat isn't properly anchored to the car.

People also make mistakes in securing children in the seats' safety harnesses, she said.

One common mistake is not having the harness retainer clip, or chest clip, high enough -- near the armpits, not the belly button.

If the clip is too low, the shoulder straps can separate, creating a hole that a child can pass through.

"You should not be able to pinch any excess (strap) at the collarbone. It should be nice and snug. A lot of families don't realize how snug it needs to be," she said.

In the winter, parents should be wary of their children wearing bulky clothing because it can prevent a harness from cinching tight, she said.

Among the most common car seat mistakes, according to babycenter.com:

n Not using a safety seat consistently.

n Using an old or secondhand seat.

n Turning a child to face forward before the child is big enough.

n Moving a child out of a car seat or booster too soon.

n Installing a safety seat incorrectly.

n Not using a locking clip, or using it incorrectly.

n Not securing a child in the seat properly.

n Not buckling a car seat into the car.

n Having a child sit on someone's lap.

n Letting two children share one seat belt.

n Letting a child ride in the front seat.

For more information, go to: www.babycenter.com

To learn about child safety seat checks in Maine, go to maineseatcheck.org

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

 

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