Friday, September 21, 2012

Parents Still Making Five Common Mistakes When Using Car Seats

Note to Parents: Give Child Car Seats an Annual Checkup

Montgomery County, Maryland – Parents are making five critical, but fixable, mistakes when using car seats, according to new data announced today by Safe Kids Worldwide and the General Motors Foundation. With so many safety features now available in both cars and car seats, parents are urged to make sure their kids are getting every advantage by taking the time to do a 15-minute at-home annual checkup.

Seventy-three percent of car seats are not being used correctly. To find out why, Safe Kids analyzed data from more than 100,000 car seat inspections done by certified technicians conducted through its Buckle Up Program, a national initiative established in 1997 by Safe Kids and supported by General Motors and the General Motors Foundation to keep children and families safe in and around cars.

"Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading killer of children ages one to thirteen," said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. "Montgomery County, led by the fire and rescue service, has been committed for years to helping keep children safe from injury by making child safety seat inspections available. I would encourage everyone to take a couple of minutes today to review these important safety tips. Bottom line, lives are depending on it.”      

The data revealed that parents and caregivers have some work to do to ensure their children are restrained properly. Five safety steps every parent should take include keeping their children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible, ideally until age two, selecting the correct seat for the weight, height or age of the child, tightening the harness enough and knowing when to let kids ride in the front seat.

“Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent,” said Emilie Crown, Safe Kids Coalition for Montgomery County. “Engineers are working hard to ensure cars and car seats are designed to keep kids as safe as possible. But it’s up to every parent to take full advantage of these innovations by making sure car seats are used and installed correctly. Safe Kids and the General Motors Foundation are teaming up to show them how.”

In a nationwide effort to educate parents about the importance of car seat safety during Child Passenger Safety Week (September 16-22), Safe Kids and the General Motors Foundation are asking every parent to take 15 minutes for an at-home car seat checkup using the Safe Kids downloadable checklist.

Car Seat Checkup Checklist

ð       Right Seat. This is an easy one. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height. Like milk, your car seat has an expiration date. Just double check the label on your car seat to make sure it is still safe. 

ð       Right Place. Kids are VIPs, just ask them. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat so keep all children in the back seat until they are 13. 

ð       Right Direction. You want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, usually until around age 2. When he or she outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors. Continue to use a booster seat until your child properly fits in the seat belt, usually when they are between the ages of 8 and 12.

ð       Inch Test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.

ð       Pinch Test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.   

The at-home checklist is meant to be a first step. Parents are encouraged to read the vehicle and car seat instruction manuals to help with the checklist. Parents are also encouraged to bring their car, car seat and child to a Safe Kids Buckle Up event in their area. Safe Kids will host more than 500 car seat inspection events across the country throughout September. Montgomery County hosts five seat check events every week of the year. Visit our website at or for more information.

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children, and we’re encouraged by the progress that is being made,” said Mike Robinson, Vice President, Sustainability and Global Regulatory Affairs for General Motors. “To ensure that our children – our most precious cargo – are safe in cars, we recommend parents take 15 minutes to check their child’s car seat annually. Our children visit the doctor every year for an annual check-up, we need to give their car seats an annual check-up, too. This quick checkup could save a life.”

For parents who want additional information, assistance or to schedule an appointment should  contact the Montgomery County Safe Kids coalition for opportunities to have your car seat checked by a certified technician. You can find information at

About the Safe Kids Montgomery Coalition
Safe Kids Montgomery works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Safe Kids Montgomery is composed of leaders of the community including representatives from fire and rescue, law enforcement, hospital partners, the Poison Control Center, nurses, the school system and other County government agencies. Safe Kids Montgomery is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Montgomery is led by the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. For more information, visit

About the General Motors Foundation
Since its inception in 1976, the GM Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to American charities, educational organizations and to disaster relief efforts worldwide. The GM Foundation focuses on supporting Education, Health and Human Services, Environment and Energy and Community Development initiatives, mainly in the communities where GM operates. Funding of the GM Foundation comes solely from GM. The last contribution to the GM Foundation was made in 2001. For more information, visit

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