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Reduce Their Risk

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

By The Staff

Perhaps our most precious resource in our lifetime is our children and grandchildren. Many of you undoubtedly transport younger children from place to place, and nationally, officials worry that not all grandparents are up to speed on what’s required for child safety.

This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week, and you should learn all you can do to keep your most precious cargo safe.

In 2008, the last year for which statistics are available, about four children ages 14 or younger were killed in motor vehicle crashes every day, and many more were injured. But parents and caregivers can make a lifesaving difference.

Whenever you're on the road, make sure your child passengers are buckled into appropriate safety seats. The safest place for children of any age to ride is properly restrained in the back seat. Data show that:

In 2008, restraint use saved the lives of 244 children ages 4 and younger. Child safety seats reduce the risk of death in car crashes by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers ages 1 to 4.

For children ages 4 to 7, booster seats reduce injury risk by 59 percent compared to safety belts alone.

Children ages 12 and younger should always be buckled up and seated in the rear seat of vehicles. Infants in rear-facing car seats should never ride in the front seat of vehicles with airbags.

In an effort to raise parents' awareness about the leading causes of child injury in the United States and how they can be prevented, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the "Protect the Ones You Love" initiative. Parents can play a life-saving role in protecting children from injuries.

Follow these guidelines for child passenger safety. If you do, you’ll be within Florida law.

UNTIL AGE 1/20 LBS - For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of their particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age 1 year and at least 20 pounds.

UNTIL AGE 4/40 LBS - When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at least age 1 year and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

UNTIL AGE 8 OR 4'9" TALL - Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when the children are 4'9" tall).

AFTER AGE 8 OR 4'9" TALL - When children outgrow their booster seats (usually at age 8 or when they are 4'9" tall), they can use the adult seat belts in the back seat, if they fit properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).

Remember: All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat. Never place a child in the front seat facing an airbag.