Summer is upon us and for some of our Airmen that means a lot of vacation travel time with the family. While some choose to fly to their destinations, others opt for the classic road trip, especially if they are traveling with infants or toddlers. To ensure the safety of our small children while driving, we must make sure to place them in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended child restraint seat.
According to the NHTSA, three out of four car seats are incorrectly installed. Some may think that installing a car seat is as easy as fastening the belt to the seat, but contrary to belief, there are a series of steps that need to be understood and followed prior to purchase and installation:
1.â€‚Select the right car seat. Make sure the seat you purchase is manufactured after January 1, 1981 (it should be labeled). Ensure the seat is certified as meeting all federal motor vehicle standards. Also, check for manufacturer warranties and recalls.
2.â€‚Ensure you purchase the seat that corresponds with your childâ€™s height and weight. Make sure your child fits in the seat properly and comfortably.
3.â€‚If possible, do not risk your childâ€™s safety by purchasing a used car seat, or by accepting a hand-me-down car seat. Material fatigue, micro-cracks, and belt wear can be present without your knowledge.
4.â€‚Make sure you take time to read the car seat instruction manual and the automobile manual thoroughly to familiarize yourself with the mechanisms, location of equipment, and car-to-seat compatibility.
There are varieties of car seats that are available, ranging from infant car seats to toddler booster seats. As for California residents, all children younger than eight years old, or under four feet and nine inches in height, must be secured in a car seat or booster. In addition, all kids younger than eight must be seated and buckled in the back seat. Children under the age of one, weighing less than twenty pounds, may not ride in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with an active passenger side airbag, even if in a rear facing infant seat (California Vehicle Code Division 12, Chapter 5, Article 3.3, Section 27360).
For more information, visit http://www.safercar.gov/parents/InstructionalVideos.htm to watch instructional videos, or call the Department of Transportation Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236, both courtesy of the NHTSA. If you would like to seek help locally, a certified technician can check your installation and answer questions. Visit www.seatcheck.org to find the nearest inspection station. If you have further questions, contact the Wing Safety Office at 951-655-4481.