John Charles Robbins Daily Journal Editor
September 19, 2013
They are sometimes referred to as precious cargo — children riding in motor vehicles.
Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 15-21, 2013, and Safe Kids North Carolina is urging parents and caregivers to make every trip in a vehicle safe for children by following the strict rules of safety restraints.
“Buckling up saves lives. As parents and caregivers, we have the responsibility to make sure our children are properly restrained every time they ride in a car,” said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, chair of Safe Kids North Carolina. “This week is meant to highlight the importance of everyone buckling up — especially our youngest passengers.”
In 2012, more than 62,000 children younger than 16 were involved in car crashes in North Carolina. Nearly two-thirds of the 60 children killed last year were not buckled in either a car seat or seat belt; among the 107 children who were injured, it is estimated that 25 would have suffered less serious injuries had they been properly buckled up.
“During Child Passenger Safety Week, I want to encourage drivers to make sure that their child restraint system is properly installed in their vehicle and that they continue to buckle up their kids throughout the entire year,” said Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly.
“The officers of the Rockingham Police Department take our citizen’s safety very seriously, especially the safety of children. I want to remind parents that they can educate themselves more on this topic with the resources available at www.buckleupnc.org. I would also like to remind everyone that the Rockingham Fire Department is a child seat checking station if assistance is needed in securing the seats in a vehicle,” Kelly said.
“The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is concerned about the welfare of all children while being transported in motor vehicles,” said Deputy N.L. Forester. “I feel that all parents should be just as concerned about their children’s safety and that they should all be in appropriate child restraint seats.”
“Safe Kids Mid-Carolinas Region joins local agencies together to help eliminate preventable childhood injuries,” said Coordinator Amy Forester. “One popular area of focus is transporting children safely in vehicles.”
During Child Passenger Safety Week, caregivers are encouraged to seek out assistance from local resources. These include permanent checking stations at Rockingham Fire Department and Hamlet Police Department.
“Caregivers may also contact me at FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital or Deputy Forester at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office,” said Amy. Deputy Forester happens to be her husband. Amy works as an outreach manager for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, and is based at Richmond Memorial in Rockingham.
“Certified Child Passenger Safety technicians have gone through extensive training to assist caregivers in the proper selection, use and installation of their child restraint,” said Amy.
More information can be found at www.buckleupnc.org, this includes child restraint recalls, the NC Child Passenger Safety Law, as well as contacts and resources.
During Child Passenger Safety Week, and on Seat Check Saturday, Sept. 21, there will be events around the state at which parents and caregivers can learn how to properly install and use child restraints in vehicles. There are also more than 100 permanent checking stations at fire stations and other sites in North Carolina. To find an event, or see the list of permanent checking stations by county, visit www.buckleupnc.org.
As children grow, they should progress through four steps of restraints:
• Birth-2 years – According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should travel in a rear-facing car seat until at least 2 years of age. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. There are different types of rear-facing car seats; infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and three-in-one car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
• 2-5 years – Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to use a booster seat that is located in the back seat.
• 5-9 years – Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough that the seat belt fits properly. The lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember, your child should continue to ride in the back seat because it is safer there.
• 9-16 years – When you child outgrows a booster seat, and can fit properly into an adult seat belt, it is important that families make it a priority to remind everyone in the vehicle to buckle up every ride, every time.
By following these guidelines, your child will ride as safely as possible, and you will be establishing the foundation for a life-long habit of seat belt use every time your child travels.
Safe Kids North Carolina, a program housed in the North Carolina Department of Insurance, reaches out to parents, caregivers and children in 66 counties served by 38 coalitions across the state. Through these coalitions and partnerships, more than six million people have access to Safe Kids North Carolina programming.
For more safety tips and information about Safe Kids North Carolina, visit www.ncsafekids.org.