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Installing child safety car seats properly

August 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's back to school time. Pediatric experts say with all the changing schedules, added traffic and the rush to get places, many parents may be skipping an important safety measure.

Children's Hospital Los Angeles is boosting its education efforts after a recording a spike in the number of injuries in children being restrained improperly in cars.

"These are typically high-impact injuries. Many of them in fact occur on the freeways," said pediatric emergency medicine specialist Dr. Alan Nager.

Nager says either poorly fitted seats hurt kids or they slip out of their seats.

"Many of those children essentially just are loose in the car, and we've had a few that are ejected from the car itself," said Nager.

Injury-prevention educators say 85 percent of parents restrain their kids incorrectly.

"Car seats expire after six years of use, or if they've been involved in a motor vehicle crash," said CHLA Injury Prevention Coordinator Helen Arbogast.

Arbogast says you should buy a car seat based on your child's height, weight and the vehicle you drive.

Make sure your child's head is 2 inches below the top of the seat.

"If the child's head is above the height of the seat, they're losing the benefit of this added protection from the seat," said Arbogast.

"[The] retainer clip ... should be at armpit level," said Arbogast. "This keeps the harness right at the shoulders so that the children have the proper distribution of force in a motor vehicle crash."

And buckle in below. Many parents forget a very important installation step: Pull the seatbelt all the way out until it clicks. If you don't lock out the belt, the seat can move quite a bit.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just approved using ordinary shelf liner, the non-skid type, to protect your vehicle seat and also to keep your child's car seat from sliding.

"You don't want the car seat to move more than 1 inch," said Arbogast.

"We see lots of injures from unrestrained kids. I highly recommend that you restrain your child appropriately," said Nager.

It's back to school time and with all the changing schedules, added traffic and rush to get places, many doctors believe parents are over-looking how safe their kids are in cars.