NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In less than a week, two children have been killed in Connecticut after being ejected in accidents. A 6-year-old girl died on Tuesday after being thrown from a car on Route 8 in Shelton. Police aren’t saying whether or not she was strapped into a car seat.
Four out of five child car seats are not installed correctly. Making sure your kids are in the right car seats and that they are installed properly can make a big difference.
“If they are appropriately restrained, it will reduce their risk of serious injury or death by 71-percent,” said Kevin Borrup, Associate Director of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC).
There are two different ways to put in a car seat. Some use seat belts, others use the LATCH system.
Cars made after 2002 have hooks in the seats that the car seat connects to. After hooking it up, make sure to tighten all the harnesses. Pull on the car seat with your non-dominant hand to check how tight it is. It shouldn’t move more than an inch either way.
Most infant car seats have indicators to tell you if it’s at the proper angle to protect the child’s head. After you put the baby in the car seat, check the harness across the child’s body. The chest clip should be at the arm pit level, not over the neck or stomach.
“Pinch the fabric at the shoulder and if you can’t pinch too much fabric, then you know it’s snug enough,” said Margaret McCabe of CCMC.
The current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to keep children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the weight or height limitations of the seat or to the age of 2.
Children under the age of 4 should be in a car seat with a harness but after that age children can remain in the seat since many seats have higher weights limitation. Many parents opt to do this because it is more safe for children in the harness.
The booster law in Pennsylvania goes up to age 8. Boosters can be used within guidelines of 4’9” and 80 pounds.
When your child is ready to transition to a seatbelt, make sure they can sit up in the seat with their knees bent at a 90-degree angle and their feet flat on their floor.
Also, check that the seatbelt hits on the child’s collarbone, not their neck.
Car seats expire after about six years, since technology improves and time in a hot car can take its toll. Most fire and police departments will help parents and caregivers install a car seat.