Rear facing vs. forward facing. Options based on age and weight. Harnessed seat vs. booster.
Selecting a car seat for a baby or child can be difficult enough, but imagine sorting through these decisions if your primary language isn’t English.
Akron Children’s sponsored a “Car Seat Check” last week in Akron’s North Hill, especially designed to accommodate Burmese refugees who have settled in the neighborhood.
“We had 3 child passenger safety instructors, 5 child passenger safety technicians, 3 Karen-speaking interpreters and 6 volunteers,” said Kristen Eklund, a child passenger safety instructor for Akron Children’s. “We distributed 59 brand-new car seats to families who did not have a car seat and each family received hands-on education and help in installing the car seats in their vehicles.”
The free event was advertised on flyers in the Karen language and appointments were scheduled with a community health worker who spoke Karen. Interpreters were at every station at the event.
“I felt it was important for our team to make sure that each step of the way, families were greeted and spoken to in their own language,” said Eklund. “From reading about the event, to making an appointment, to receiving education at the event, I wanted the families to be able to walk away feeling like they had faced no barriers in the process.”
Akron Children’s will sponsor another Car Seat Check on Sept. 19 for Akron’s Nepali families and eligible families will receive invitations.
Motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of accidental injury and death in children under the age of 13, and, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, and a whopping 9 out of 10 car seats are used incorrectly.
Here are some tips to keep kids safe in cars:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Administration recommend keeping children rear-facing in their car seat beyond their second birthday, keeping them in a harnessed car seat until at least age 6, and keeping them in a booster seat until age 10 or longer.
- Parents should seek out a certified child passenger safety technician to have their car seats checked. Most fire departments and police stations don’t have certified staff to check car seats. You can locate one by visiting Safe Kids Worldwide and clicking on “Find a Tech.”
- Akron Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Summit County have technicians on staff to check car seats by appointment. There is a reduced-cost car seat program available for families who qualify for WIC and/or government assistance. To learn more about this, call Akron Children’s Injury Prevention Line at 330-543-8942.
- Car seats expire and should be replaced when they reach their expiration date. They should also be replaced after a crash.
- Buying used car seats is not recommended because you don’t know the history of the car seat. You should only accept a used car seat if you know the car seat has never been in a crash, is not recalled, is not expired, and you trust the person giving it to you has disclosed the full history of the car seat.
- Using aftermarket products purchased at the store, such as head rests, body pillows and bundle bags, can be dangerous and should be avoided. Use only the pieces and parts that came with your car seat or that are approved by the manufacturer of your car seat specifically.
- It’s safer and more comfortable if babies and young children don’t wear heavy coats or snow suits while in their car seat. An easy way to check to see if the coat is too thick for the car seat is to buckle the child in wearing the coat, then tighten the harness as usual. Once tightened, remove the child from the seat but don’t adjust the straps in any way. Now take off the coat and put the child back in. If the straps are loose, the coat was too thick. You should not be able to pinch a crease in the harness strap at the shoulder. If you can, it needs to tighten up a little more.
- The best seat is the seat that fits your child, fits your vehicle and can be used correctly every single time.