With the pandemic still raging on, parents have lots on their minds, and car seats may not be at the top of the list. Sadly, vehicle crashes and roadway fatalities have increased since the pandemic started and that is putting children more at risk as passengers in vehicles.

National Child Passenger Safety Week is a good opportunity for parents to get a free car seat inspection and make sure that their children are traveling as safely as possible. Fortunately, many areas around the state are back to offering in-person car seat inspections as well as virtual car seat inspections.

Every parent wants the best for their child’s future, and one of the best ways to make sure your child will have a bright future is to be sure that you are correctly using the right car seat for your child and that the seat is correctly installed in your vehicle every time. Although most parents think they are using their car seat correctly, most car seats are used incorrectly. For a car seat to best protect your child, it must be the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, and one that you will use correctly every time you travel.

Children are at greater risk than adults in a vehicle crash. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children. Crash data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shows that in 2019, two children under 13 were killed every day in 2019 while riding in vehicles. More than one-third of children 12 and younger who died in crashes in 2019 were unbuckled.

That’s why Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family and Community Health Educator Clarissa Moon is urging all parents and caregivers to get a free inspection by attending a checkup event in their area or finding a car seat inspection station. As a part of National Child Passenger Safety Week checkup events are being held throughout the state. To find out if there is a checkup event planned near you, go to https://www.dshs.texas.gov/saferiders/checkups.shtm.

The technician nearest to Panola County is Kristy Whisenhunt in Atlanta, TX. She may be reached at (903) 799-1221. You may also make an appointment at a car seat fitting station by visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website at https://www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/right-seat and click on Car Seat Inspection Finder to enter your zip code.

For a child safety seat to do its job correctly, it has to be:

  • Appropriate for your child’s age and size,
  • Installed properly in your vehicle, and
  • Adjusted to fit your child securely.

Parents are reminded to keep children rear-facing until they reach the weight or height limit of their rear-facing convertible seat, which is at least 40 pounds. Also, children should stay in a 5-point harness system until they outgrow the weight or height limit of their seat. Booster seats are for children who are at least age 4 and 40 pounds or more and mature enough to sit still in a booster. Finally, keep children in a booster seat until the seat belt fits correctly. This is usually sometime between ages 8 and 12.

If you’re a parent or caregiver, don’t miss this opportunity to have a free child safety seat inspection by a certified child passenger safety technician. Technicians can provide hands-on advice and instruction. Make sure your children are safe and you are in compliance with the current child safety seat law in Texas. The law requires all children under age 8, unless taller than 4-feet-9-inches, to be in a child safety seat system, which includes traditional child safety seats with harnesses and booster seats. Keep in mind that the law is always the minimum. Car seat technicians will be able to provide education on best practices.

Remember: All child passengers under age 13 should ride securely restrained in the back seat, where they are safest — every trip, every time. If you are not able to attend an event during National Child Passenger Safety Week, you don’t have to wait until next year to check if your car seat is properly installed.

To locate a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in Texas, please visit: http://buckleup.tamu.edu.

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