Friday, July 9, 2010

Study Says Drivers Should Keep the Car Seat in the Car

To prevent injuries in babies, car seats should stay in the car. That's the message of a new study, published earlier this week in the journal "Pediatrics," which shows that almost 9,000 infants go to the emergency room (ER) every year for car seat-related injuries that happen outside the car.

If the seat does have to come out of the car, said co-author Lindsay Wilson, parents should make sure their babies are always strapped in.

Wilson and Dr. Shital Parikh, both from the orthopedics division of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, reviewed five years worth of data from a national U.S. surveillance system to find records of babies less than one year old that were taken to the ER for car seat injuries.

From 2003-2007, almost 2,000 babies in the sample -- so about 43,500 in the entire U.S., the authors estimated -- were brought to the ER for a car seat injury. Most of those injuries happened when babies fell out of their car seat or were in the seat when it fell off a table, counter or shopping cart.

Head or neck injuries were most common, especially in the youngest babies, who were also more likely to go to the ER. Part of the reason these injuries are so common, the authors write, is that parents may assume that babies won't be moving around because they haven't developed good coordination yet. So they commonly leave the baby in a car seat without strapping it in, or set the seat somewhere that puts the child at eye level.

Virginia's Child Passenger Safety Laws stipulate that child restraint devices are required for children through the age of seven (until 8th birthday). Further, safety seats must be properly used and approved by Department of Transportation standards.

Schedule a Safety Seat Inspection
The Leesburg Police Department, 65 Plaza Street NE in Leesburg, is a Child Safety Seat Check Station. Contact Master Police Officer Travis Lotz at 703-771-4578 to schedule an appointment. To locate additional safety seat stations in Virginia, visit You can also call the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Child Passenger Safety Information Line 800-732-8333. And VDH offers several educational videos on safety seat installation.

Loudoun County Fire and Rescue personnel follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration curriculum for child passenger safety. Loudoun County firefighters have been trained to provide parents, grandparents, childcare providers or anyone who transports a child, information on properly installing a child safety seat. To schedule an appointment to have your child seat inspected, call a station in your area of the county. Because of the large number of requests for this service, remember to schedule your visit well in advance of your due date. A list of the stations is available online.

9 Out of 10 Safety Seats Installed Incorrectly
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reports that nine out of every 10 safety seats in use in Virginia have been installed incorrectly. To ensure your child is secured properly, DMV offers several safety tips:
  • Make sure that the safety seat fits the child, the vehicle, any special needs of the child and that will be used correctly every time.
  • Check safety seat labels for weight and height limitations. This will assist in picking the safety seat that is right for the child.
  • Each child safety seat needs a safety belt or LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) to hold it in place.
  • Check the safety seat instructions and the vehicle owner's manual for basic instructions.
  • The child safety seat must be held tightly against the vehicle seat back. If the safety seat slides around on the vehicle seat, the child may not be protected by the safety seat.
  • How "tight" is tight? There should be no more than one inch of side to side or forward movement of the safety seat after installation.
As we enjoy our summer months Loudoun County commuters, let's also remember to do all we can to ensure a safe summer... so keep those car seats in the car -- and be sure they are installed properly!

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