Every day three children die in road accidents in South Africa.
This is according to UNICEF who have also revealed that road accidents are the leading cause of preventable deaths of children under 5-years-old.
This shockingly high number would be significantly less if parents just used their car seats correctly.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that the correct use of a car seat reduces the risk for death to infants by 71% and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles.
Booster seats use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone.
Using a car seat doesn’t just mean strapping your child in. In fact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 3 out of 4 safety seats are used incorrectly.
So how do you use a safety seat correctly?
1st for Women offers these tips:
- Buy the best car seat you can afford. Beware of bargains, old and secondhand car seats. They may have some unseen damage.
- If you must use a secondhand seat, make sure it has the original instructions, all its parts (check the manual), hasn’t been in a serious accident or recalled. Stick with car seats that are less than five years old. There’s usually an expiration date on the seat.
- Always double-check the car seat's label to ensure it's the right one for your child's age, weight and height.
- Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible - at least until the age of 2 or until he/she reaches the seat's maximum rear-facing height and weight limits.
- Your child should ride in a safety seat with a five-point harness until he/she weighs at least 18.5 kg, or until his shoulders no longer fit under the harness straps.
- Your child should ride in a booster seat from the time he/she weighs 18.5 kg and is at least 4 years old until he/she's 4 feet 9 inches tall and at least 8-years-old.
- Make sure your seat is installed correctly.
- Check to be sure that car seats don't tip forward or slide from side to side more than an inch, and that boosters are secured with a lap-and-shoulder belt.
- Make sure your child is secured in the seat properly by ensuring that the car seat harness straps are snug enough to hold your child firmly in the event of an accident.
- Buckle your child in, making sure the harness straps aren't twisted, and then use the mechanism to pull the harness tight. You shouldn't be able to pinch any harness fabric between your fingers.
- Slide the plastic retainer clip that holds the two straps together up to armpit level before securing it. If the clip is too low, your child could be ejected from his seat in a crash.
- When you're putting your child in his seat, double-check to be sure that the seat is buckled tightly to the car. Forward-facing safety seats come with a strap so you can tether the seat to an anchor point in the car for extra protection.
- Set a good example by always wearing your own seat belt.
When it comes to the safety your children no task should be tedious to do. In country where there are more than 700 000 crashes per year, using your car seat correctly could literally be the difference between life and death.
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