Riding Safe-to-School: September 1, 2013

Starting school maybe a major milestone for your child, but it doesn’t mean they’ve graduated from using a car seat. It’s important to keep them safely secured until they’ve outgrown the recommendations.

Getting your child safely to school is something parents take very seriously. With younger students it means giving them a boost.

“A lot of parents feel by the age of three they don’t need to be in any sort of device. Kids need to be in boosters until they’re 4 feet 9 inches so it’s a long time but it is important because seat belts are designed for adults not children,” says Lina Quintana, child advocate for Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

The latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics are very specific: prioritizing height over age.  It advises that children need a booster until they reached 4 feet 9 inches tall, which usually lands between 8 and 12 years of age. That could carry a child almost through elementary school depending on their size.

“The booster, what it does, is it lifts the child so the seat belt fits on them properly. It fits where it needs to be. It needs to fit across the lap and across the shoulder,” says Quintana.

Car crashes remain the number one cause of death for children four and up, and for every fatality 18 children are hospitalized. These figures are trending down as more people are keeping their kids under wraps.

“Yes, absolutely the car seats do reduce the injuries that are caused in a car crash. What happens is the seat belt cuts across the abdomen where very important organs are. The seat belt meant to be across the shoulder, will be across the neck, that is not a good thing because you can imagine what will happen in a crash,” says Quintana.

And don’t think your preteen is home free once they outgrow the booster. There are evidenced-based guidelines for them too.

“Never in the front seat until age 13. Airbags and kids don’t mix well so you want to make sure you’re always putting your kids in the back seat,” says Quintana.

Consider it the rules of the road and plan to leave for school a bit earlier if takes extra time to get situated.