National Child Passenger Safety Week: is your child’s car seat properly installed?

National Child Passenger Safety Week: is your child’s car seat properly installed?

When car seats and boosters are installed correctly they can dramatically reduce the risk of fatal injury for kids involved in a crash. Yet according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly half of all car seats are installed incorrectly.

“The average misuse rate in our area ranges between 90 and 95 percent,” said Kathleen Clary-Cooke with Safe Kids Benton-Franklin. “Sometimes that’s just a little tweak, but a lot of times it’s a mistake that really could make a big difference in your child’s safety in a crash.”

National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 15-21) serves as an opportunity to revisit some of the rules and regulations when it comes to car seats and boosters.

Clary-Cooke said common mistakes include forgetting the top tether when installing a forward-facing car seat or forgetting to lock the seat belt.

“Think of the BLT sandwich,” she said. “You buckle, you lock, you tighten.”

Clary-Cooke said it’s also important to make sure your child is in the proper car seat or booster for their size and age and that it’s facing right direction.

Under new laws that go into effect in January for Washington state, children up to age 2 must ride in a rear-facing car seat, and children ages 2-4 years must ride in a car seat with a harness.

Additionally, children 4 years old and up must ride in a car seat or booster seat until they are 4’9,” and children up to age 13 must ride in the back seat when practical.

Statistics show that car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages one to 13.

“Properly installed and properly used car seats can reduce a child’s risk of death by up to 71 percent,” said Clary-Cooke. “That’s huge.”

Safe Kids Benton-Franklin is partnering with the Allstate Foundation to host a free car seat inspection event on Saturday. Nationally-certified technicians will be available to check car seats and help anyone properly install one. The clinic is being held in conjunction with West Richland Police Department’s Kids Commuting Safely event.

The event is happening Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Leona Libby Middle School. No appointments are necessary.