Protecting your precious cargo: car seats

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Nine out of ten car safety seats are not installed correctly and that could result in preventable injuries - in some cases, even death. In this Healthcast, we show you the best car seat for your most precious cargo and how to use it the right way.

With three kids ages three on down, full-time mom Kathryn Sanford has her hands full!  And when it comes to packing up to go, well, can be a long process getting each youngster secured.

While Kathryn might have to deal with some unwanted stress along the way, she doesn't have to worry about the safety of each child's car seat.  "What we really looked for was their safety record," says Kathryn, "from there we decided who was the safest and what was recommended for each child at the appropriate age."

That's where things get a big trickier, according to Alisa Stevens with the Region V Office of Public Health. She says weight and age are factors that have to be considered as one when it comes to car seats.  "The law says from birth to 20 pounds and one year old, a child has to ride rear-facing. It has to be both not one or the other," says Alisa.

Once the child is one year old and 20 pounds, it's time to move to a new seat.  "Now they need to be forward-facing," says Alisa, "in a 5-point harness, meaning that it's going to meet them in two spots over the shoulders, down by the legs and in the middle."

The brand of car seat does not matter. If it's on store shelves, it meets safety guidelines. For new parents, the installation process can be lengthy, but Alisa offers these tips after locating the belt path.  "Attach it, then to make it tighter, apply pressure to the seat at the same time that you're pulling the strap."

Once the seat is secured - and this can be just a couple of steps or several depending on your car seat and vehicle - you need to test it's stability.  Alisa says, "It shouldn't move an inch left to right and you're going to check it at the belt path."

Most children will go through three car seats before age 8 - and that includes the rear-facing seat, the forward-facing seat and finally the booster. Kathryn's now changed out seats seven times!  "Carson is on his third car seat, Savannah is on her second and Aiden is on his second now," she says.

While you might think your child is big enough to sit "car seatless," this shouldn't happen before the child is eight years old and 80 pounds.

*It is fine to use "hand-me-down" car seats, you should just have it evaluated by state police or public health officials before using it.

**To have your child's car seat evaluated for free by the Office of Public Health, come out to Prien Lake Mall Saturday, September 12th from 10:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.

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