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Safe Kids Carroll County: Tips to protect the youngest automobile passengers

National Child Passenger Safety Week will take place this year from September 20-26. This annual event is celebrated as a means of reminding parents and caregivers of the need to keep children of all ages properly restrained in a car seat that meets both their weight and height requirements.

Here are some passenger safety tips from Safe Kids Carroll County.

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Infants

• All infants should ride rear-facing in either an infant car seat or convertible seat.

• If an infant car seat is used, the infant should be switched to a rear-facing convertible car seat once the maximum height (when the infant’s head is within 1 inch of the top of the seat) and weight (usually 25-35 pounds) have been reached for that infant seat as suggested by the car seat manufacturer.

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Toddlers

• Toddlers should remain rear-facing in a convertible car seat until they have reached the maximum height and weight recommended for the model, or at least the age of 2 or 30 pounds.

• Children can remain in some forward-facing car seats until they’re 65 pounds or more depending on the car seat limits. Check labels to find the exact measurements for your seat.

• Discontinue use of lower attachment when your child reaches the limits set by your car seat and car manufacturers. Continue to use the top tether. You must read both manuals to know about those limits.

• Once your child meets the lower anchor weight limits, you will switch to a seat belt. Seat belts are made to protect very heavy adults as well as children in car seats and booster seats.

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Booster seats

Take the next step to a booster seat when you answer “yes” to any of these questions:

• Does your child exceed the car seat’s height or weight limits?

• Are your child’s shoulders above the car seat’s top harness slots?

• Are the tops of your child’s ears above the top of the car seat?

• If the car seat with a harness still fits, and your child is within the weight and height limits, continue to use it until it is outgrown. It provides more protection than a booster seat or seat belt for a small child.

When adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too.

Please call the Carroll County Health Department with any questions about car seats or to make a virtual appointment at 410-876-4448 or visit www.safekids.org or www.aap.org

Maggie Rauser is the Safe Kids coalition coordinator with the Carroll County Health Deptartment.

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