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1-in-4: Who doesn't buckle-in their kids?

2015-02-04 10:59

ARE YOU GUILTY? Only one of four parents buckle their kids up on every trip, nor are car seats being used correctly in SA. Image: Shutterstock

When it comes to children, safety is a must and complete responsibility of parents. And, are you using your child seat properly?

Recent US research, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, reveals that many parents are not using their car's child safety seat properly. One in four parents admits to not buckling-in their child(ren) for every individual trip.

CRASHES KILL 3 KIDS A DAY

1st for Women Insurance’s executive head Robyn Farrell said: "According to Unicef, road crashes are the leading cause of death in children under five years old in South Africa.

“The Road Traffic Management Corporation says that we have more than 700 000 crashes a year with three children dying a day on our roads. In our country, a child is twenty times more likely to die on our roads than anywhere else in the world. The simple truth is that if car seats were used safely and correctly, many of these deaths could be avoided.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that three out of four safety seats are used incorrectly. “It’s your duty to educate yourself. Remember that height and weight are the important factors, not the age of the child,” says Farrell.

FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

• Road crashes are the leading cause of death of children under five years old in SA
• There are more than 700 000 crashes in SA per year and three children die on our roads each day
• A child is 20 times more likely to die on a road in SA than children in other parts of the world
• Many deaths can be avoided by using car seats correctly (About 3/4 safety seats are used incorrectly)
• The height and weight of children determine their car seat needs, not their age
• The use of a car seat reduces the risk of death to infants by 71% in infants and to toddlers by 54%
• The use of a booster seat reduces the risk of serious injury by 45% in children aged 4-8 years
• Your child must be at least 145cm tall before you stop using a booster seat

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of a car seat reduces the risk for death to infants by 71% and to toddlers (aged one–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.

Invest in a safety seat that's convenient to use and make buckling your child into it an ingrained habit.

Farrell added: “Your child needs to be at least 145cm tall before you can stop using the booster seat. Using the car seats properly will make the difference between life and death in a crash. A one-time lapse can result in a lifetime of regret."

CAR SEAT SAFETY TIPS

• Buy the best car seat you can afford. Beware of bargains, old and secondhand car seats. They may have unseen damage.
• If you must use a second-hand 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 two 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 18.5kg, 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 18.5kg and is at least four years old until he/she's 145cm and at least eight 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.
• Next time you see someone driving around with their children not in a car seat or safely buckled up, call 0861 400-800 with the car’s license plate and the date and the RTMC will send them a warning letter. It could save a child's life.

And a final point from Wheels24: For all those mommies who have a 'Child on Board' diamond dangling in their rear window as a sort of badge of achievement: it should only be there when there IS a child on board IN CASE YOU CRASH.

Then the rescue team will know to make a supreme effort, despite the danger of fire or explosion, to find your little one - who could even have been thrown out of the car.

Don't be lazy mom, take the darn thing down unless junior is actually in the car. You could save a fireman's life!

Do you strap in your kids? If not, why not? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts or use the Readers' Comments section below...

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