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Back-to-school: What every parent should know about car seat safety

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Supplies have been gathered, and school is in session. Car Seats Colorado is reminding parents and caregivers about the most important school supply that may not have been on their list — car seats and booster seats.

Car Seats Colorado, a partnership of the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol, is offering a quick list to keep kids safe and avoid serious injury in a crash.

Coordinate your carpool.

Carpooling? Make sure the designated drivers know the correct seat for each child. All drivers should know how to correctly install the seats and secure every child. Every car and booster seat model is different, and different vehicles may have varied installation procedures. Check the car seat manufacturer’s recommendations for every seat in the car.

Resist peer pressure.

If your child is reaching the upper limit of a booster seat, they may try to talk you out of using it because their friends don’t use one. Resist the temptation — if your child isn’t the proper size (not age!), using a seat belt alone can cause serious harm in a crash.

Get help from the experts.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), three out of every four children are secured incorrectly. Even the most diligent parents can miss something when it comes to proper installation and correct seat size and fit. Back-to-school time is an excellent time to visit a car seat check station and have car seats checked by a licensed child passenger safety technician. CarSeatsColorado.com has a list of check stations statewide.

Items in a vehicle can act as deadly projectiles in a crash.

Hockey skates, heavy textbooks, and especially unbuckled passengers can cause serious injury during a crash. Imagine a heavy book, or another person, colliding with a passenger at 40 mph. Secure all heavy or sharp objects in the trunk or rear of the vehicle at all times. And make sure every person is wearing their seat belt — even on short trips.

Always check for recalls.

Every year, multiple car and booster seat models are recalled due to manufacturing or design flaws. For example, some latches are within reach, and too easy for the child to unbuckle. Check every year whether your car or booster seat has been recalled, and always register the seat when purchasing a new one. Be cautious of seats that you inherited from friends or purchased used online. Look on the NHTSA car seat recall database to find out if a car seat or booster has been recalled.

Car Seats Colorado provides education and resources to help parents ensure their children are riding safely, as well as recycling programs for used car seats and training courses for safety technicians. Car Seats Colorado is composed of the Colorado State Patrol, CDOT, local car seat technicians, law enforcement, emergency services and other professionals who are dedicated to implementing child passenger safety programs. Learn more at CarSeatsColorado.com.

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