Special to Iredell Free News

Safe Kids Iredell County is participating in Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs from September 17-23. The annual safety week allows parents and caregivers to learn how to correctly install and use the right car seats for their kids.

Safe Kids Iredell County in partnership with Statesville Fire Department, the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children, and Walmart, will have certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians available for car seat safety checks and education on Wednesday, September 20, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Walmart Supercenter in Statesville.

Technicians will check to make sure your children are in the right seats for their ages and sizes, and ensure your car seats are installed correctly.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children, and the latest research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 46 percent of car seats are misused.

An average of two children under age 13 were killed every day in 2021 while riding in vehicles, and another estimated 318 were injured. More than 36 percent of the children who died while riding in passenger vehicles were unrestrained.

Car seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars.

According to North Carolina law, children less than age 5 and less than 40 pounds must be in the back seat, with the recommendation to keep kids in the back seat until they are 12 or 13.

N.C. law also legally requires children under age 8 who weigh less than 80 pounds to be secured in a booster seat. Even for children over 8 or 80 pounds, it is recommended they be secured in a booster seat until they reach 4-feet-9-inches tall to ensure the correct seat belt fit. The safest place for all kids under 13 is buckled up in the back seat.

Some of the most common issues seen with child passengers are children riding completely unrestrained, in the wrong restraint types for their ages and sizes, or in car seats installed incorrectly.

To choose the best protection for your child, follow these steps:

♦ Use rear-facing car seats as long as possible, but at least until a child is 2 years old or until they reach the upper weight or height limit allowed by the child seat’s manufacturer.

♦ When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should ride in forward-facing car seats with a harness and tether strap until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the seat or harness.

♦ Once children outgrow the harness of their forward-facing seats (by weight or height, whichever comes first), they should ride in booster seats until the seat belt fits properly on its own.

♦ Children should stay in booster seats until they are large enough for the lap and shoulder seat belts to fit properly, usually between 8 and 12 years old. If the belts do not fit properly, continue to use a booster seat.

There’s valuable information available regarding car seats, and Safe Kids Iredell County wants to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of child passenger safety and their vital role in it. As kids grow, their car seats will change, and it’s important to keep them in the right seat at every stage.

About Safe Kids

Safe Kids Iredell County is a coalition sponsored by the Iredell County Health Department, working to help families and communities keep kids safe from preventable injuries through community collaboration and education. For more information, contact Caroline Hager, Safe Kids Iredell County Coordinator, at (704) 761- 2491, or visit https://www.iredellcountync.gov/1686/Safe-Kids-Iredell-County

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