This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week! It’s a great time to brush up on the laws and best practices that are recommended to keep your child safe. Why should you care? Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of serious injury and death for children in Wisconsin. Many of these injuries and deaths can be prevented.
What do you need to know?
Wisconsin Law: Children must be in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat, until they are BOTH 1 year old AND 20 pounds.
Best Practice: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay rear-facing until they are at least 2 years old. Research shows children are 75 percent safer when they are rear-facing. We encourage you to follow this guideline.
Wisconsin Law: Children must be in a forward-facing car seat with a harness, in the back seat, until they are BOTH 4 years old AND 40 pounds.
Best Practice: Children are much better protected when restrained in a harness, than in a seat belt alone. New car seats on the market allow for higher harness weights of up to 50-80 pounds, so it is possible to keep them safer longer.
Wisconsin Law: Children need to be at least 4 years old AND 40 pounds to ride in a booster seat. After they meet that requirement, they must ride in a booster seat, in the back seat, until they are 8 years old OR 80 pounds OR 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Best Practice: After meeting the minimum requirement, children should stay in a booster until they can sit straight up on their own without slouching, and until the seat belt fits them snugly across the hips, chest and shoulder. Children will more likely pass this test when they reach 4 feet 9 inches.
Children age 12 and younger should ride in the back seat.
That is a lot of information to take in. Confused? We are here to help! Children’s Hospital and Health System offers a free Booster and Car Seat Clinic on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. and every other Tuesday from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. This service is open to the public, so tell your friends! To schedule an appointment (no walk-ins, please), call (414) 607-5280.
Remember, nine out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly. Don’t take a chance on your child’s safety!
– Katie Horrigan, community outreach manager, Children’s Health Education Center