What you need to know:
All 50 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories have laws that require babies to ride in car seats.
A car seat is extremely effective at protecting your baby when it is installed correctly and used correctly every time the baby is a passenger.
What you can do:
* Be careful about using a car seat that belonged to someone else. It may be damaged.
* Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when you install the car seat.
* Put your baby in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of your car. Continue to do this until the baby weighs 20 pounds and is one year old.
* Don’t put your baby close to a passenger-side air bag.
* Use the car seat every time the baby rides in the car.
* Never ride with your child in your lap in a car.
* Never leave your baby alone in the car, even for a moment.
Visit the Safe Kids Web site for more information.
Zoom! The March of Dimes Guide to Car Seat Safety
Soon the day will come when you will take your new little baby home from the hospital or birthing center. You'll dress him in something new—or something old and traditional—wrap him in a blanket, and put on a hat. Then you'll put your new precious bundle in car seat for the ride home. In all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories, it's the law. As a parent, it's your job to keep your child safe. And one of the best ways to do that is to always put your baby in a safe and properly-installed car seat.
We don't mean to scare you, but the facts are frightening. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, in 1999 1,765 children under the age of 14 died in auto accidents, and almost 300,000 were injured. Over 60 percent of the children who died were not using car seats or safety belts at the time of the accident.
The good news is that car seats are extremely effective at protecting your baby when installed correctly and used each and every time baby is a passenger. Use of a car seat reduces the risk of death for infants by 71 percent and for children ages one to four by 54 percent. They reduce the need for hospitalization after a crash by 69 percent for children under four years. In 1999 over 300 young lives were saved because of car seats.
When used correctly, car seats and safety belts can save lives. Unfortunately, up to 85 percent of car seats are not installed and used correctly. The March of Dimes wants you to protect your new baby correctly. Here are our tips:
Be wary of used car seats. Be careful about using a car seat that belonged to someone else, it may have been damaged.
Always put your new baby in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of your car. The back seat is the safest place for all children to ride. It is estimated that children ages 12 and under are 36 percent less likely to die in a crash if they are sitting in the back seat.
Don't put your baby in front of a passenger-side air bag. Here's another reason to put your baby in the back seat. About 20 percent of children killed by passenger-side air bags are infants in rear-facing child seats in front of an air bag. If you absolutely must put your baby in the front seat, make sure the air bag is turned off.
Infants (babies under one year) should ride in a rear-facing seat at least until they weigh 20 pounds and are one year of age. If your child fits in a rear-facing seat, leave her there past one year. It's really the safest position and it offers the best protection for your baby's head, neck and back.
Use the car seat every time baby rides. If someone offers to take your baby out, make sure the car seat goes too. And make sure it is installed correctly in the back seat. No one plans to have an accident. Most crashes happen close to home on roads with low speed limits.
Don't use your baby as an airbag. Never, ever put your child in your lap in a car. No matter how tightly you hold your child, he or she will not be safe in a crash. The baby could fly through the windshield, hit the dashboard or be crushed by your body. Always put the baby in his or her car seat.
Never leave your baby in the car, even just for a moment. Sadly, many babies die each year because they were left in an overheated car, while Mom or Dad ran to do a quick errand. Cars can heat up fast in the hot sun and a baby can overheat quickly. Avoid this tragedy by taking your baby with you when you leave the car.
If you're not sure your car seat is installed correctly, get it checked out. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully when you install the car seat. Then get it checked out. Visit the Safe Kids Web site to find an event near you where trained people will inspect your car seat and make sure it is installed and used correctly—free of charge. Some local police stations and hospitals also offer this service.
Find out more about car seat safety. Visit www.safekids.org for more tips and information on car seat safety. Or go here to review a chart with age and sizes for children and the correct car seat.