Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


Protecting your children while on the move


September 17, 2013

It’s that time of year again—summer vacations are over and children are back to school. As summer ends and school begins, many families are making carpool arrangements. Keep in mind that automobile collisions continue to be the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 12. An estimated 85 percent of children are improperly restrained throughout the United States.

Lake Stevens Fire and Safe Kids Snohomish County offer a few tips to help keep your children safe while carpooling to and from school:

One child per seat belt (double buckling can be deadly).

No children under the age of 13 in the front seat.

Children between the ages of 4 and 7 years should ride in a car seat that faces forward with a harness until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s maker.

Children who have outgrown their forward facing car seat’s harness should be in booster seats.

Booster seats should be used with a lap and shoulder belt.

Children need to be in a booster seat until the seat belt actually fits them. Seat belts were designed for adults. Between the ages of 8-12, most children have not developed strong hip bones and their legs and body are too short to allow for the proper fit of a seat belt. Many children do not sit still well enough or straight enough to keep lap belts low across their thighs.

A belt that rides up on the tummy could cause serious internal injuries. Often the shoulder belt does not fit properly, causing some children to put that portion behind their back or under their arms. These improper placements can cause serious injuries.

Take the 5-Step Test to determine whether the seat belt fits or not:

1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?

2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?

3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?

4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?

5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat for the best protection in a collision. Your child will be more comfortable too.

Lake Stevens Fire wishes you safe travels wherever you may go.


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