WORCESTER, Mass. — The Worcester Division of Public Health and UMass Injury Prevention Center are urging parents and caregivers to have their children's car seats checked on National Seat Check on Saturday.
As part of Child Passenger Safety Week from Sept. 17 to 22, certified child passenger safety technicians from the UMASS Injury Prevention Team will be available to inspect car seats and provide free hands-on advice from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Worcester Division of Public Health, 25 Meade St., Worcester. The event is open to the public.
"Car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for children younger than 1 and by 54 percent for children 1 to 4 in passenger cars," said Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, acting commissioner of the Worcester Division of Public Health. "Child Passenger Safety Week is the perfect time to remind all parents and caregivers to have their car seats checked by a certified technician."
For maximum child-passenger safety, parents and caregivers should visit a local inspection station to ensure their children's car seats are used properly and to review the following regulations:
Birth – 12 months
For the best possible protection, your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
1 – 3 years
Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age 2 or older. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
4 – 7 years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
8 – 12 years
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.
Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12. Select a car seat based on your child's age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time. Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer's instructions; read the vehicle owner's manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits. To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer's height and weight requirements.
For more information on Child Passenger Safety Week, visit www.nhtsa.gov or contact the UMass Injury Prevention Center at 774-443-8627.