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Car Seat Safety

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends infants and children remain in a rear-facing car seat until the age of two in order to protect their necks from whiplash and worse. Most manufacturers make seats that accommodate this recommendation. A common parental reason for changing to a forward facing carseat prior to age 2 is "My child's legs are too long and will be squished." But, there's good news! Children can bend their legs easily without pain and can comfortably sit criss-cross–applesauce-style (they're so much more flexible than adults). If that's not enough, think about this: The risk of injury to their legs is super rare. And, if you're still not convinced, know this: At least one study has shown that infants and toddlers are 500% safer if they remain rear-facing until two years of age.

Three out of four car seats are not installed properly so be sure to get your car seat checked for the safety of your little one. The Bend Fire Department at 1212 SW Simpson Ave has a car seat clinic every 3rd Monday of the month between 11:30am-2:30pm. The services is free and no appointment is necessary.

If your car seat or booster was in an accident (even a minor one) it needs to be thrown out and a new one obtained.

As your little one grows, should you use a booster seat or just a seat belt? School-aged children can safely transfer to a booster once they exceed the manufacturer's weight limits on their car seat.  They should remain in a belt-positioning booster until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches, which is usually between the ages of 9 and 12. According to Oregon Department of Transportation, you should keep your child in a booster until you can answer YES to all of the following questions:

Can the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
Do the child's knees bend comfortable at the edge of the seat?
Does the shoulder belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
Can the child stay comfortably seated like this for the whole trip?

And so what do you tell your tween or teen sitting in the back telling you they don't need a seatbelt? "No belt, no go." The AAP recommends that everyone in the car wear a seatbelt and children under 13 years should never ride in the front seat.   

Below are links for additional information on car seats and driving safety. 
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Product-Listing.aspx

We hope this information is helpful to keep your children safe on the Central Oregon Roads!

Dr. Abby Hendricks
Dr. Sarah Morrison
St. Charles Pediatrics

Pickrell, T.M., Li,R., &KC, S. (2016, September).
Occupant restraint use in 2015: Results from the NOPUS controlled intersection study (Report No. DOT HS 812 330).
Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
CDC.gov. Child Passenger Safety: Get the Facts.
Oregon.Gov. Occupant Protection.
HealthyChildren.Org. Car Seats: Information for Families.
HealthyChildren.Org: Car Seats Product Listing 2016.