Do you wear your seat belt as soon as you get in the car? Do your children have the right safety seats for their age, height and weight? If you have answered no even once, you need to read on...
Seat Belt Safety: Buckle Up Correctly
Adjusting your seat belt properly is a must: Getting the right fit is as important as wearing it. The strap that goes across your lap should fit snugly over your hips and upper thigh area. If the belt rides up on the stomach, it could cause serious injuries in a crash.
Shoulder strap should rest securely across your chest and shoulders between your breasts. Do not let the strap fall across your neck or face and never place the strap under your arms or behind your back. Any one of these positions can cause serious injury.
Seat Belt Safety: 5way Protection
- Keeps the occupants of the vehicle inside - It is a myth that people are better off being thrown clear from the crash. People thrown from a vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who remain inside.
- Restrains the strongest parts of the body. Restraints are designed to contact your body at its strongest parts. For an older child and adult, these parts are the hips and shoulders, which is where the seat belt should be strapped.
- Spreads out any force from the collision. Lap-and-shoulder belts spread the force of the crash over a wide area of the body. By putting less stress on any one area, they can help you avoid serious injuries. A shoulder strap also helps keep your head and upper body away from the dashboard, steering wheel, and other hard interior parts of the automobile should you stop suddenly or be hit by another vehicle.
- Helps the body to slow down. What is it that causes injury? A quick change in speed. Seat belts help extend the time it takes for you to slow down in a crash.
- Protects your brain and spinal cord. A seat belt is designed to protect these two critical areas. Head injuries may be hard to see immediately, but they can be deadly. Likewise, spinal cord injuries can have serious consequences.
Seat Belt Safety: Rules for Infants and Children
Children need specialized protection in a moving vehicle, their age, height, and weight determine the safest way for a child to travel. The following is a guide on how to select the right option for your child:
- Rear-facing child safety seat - Children under age 1 and those who weigh less than 20 pounds should sit in rear-facing, child safety seats. The seats should be placed in the back seat of the car.
- Forward-facing child safety seat - Children older than 1 who weigh more than 20 pounds should ride in forward-facing child safety seats. The seat should be placed in the rear of the vehicle until the child reaches the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat. Typically, a child will outgrow a safety seat around age 4 and once she reaches about 40 pounds.
- Booster seat - Children age 4 and older who weigh more than 40 pounds should ride in booster seats. A child can safely progress to a seat belt when the belt fits properly across the upper thighs and chest. This is usually at age 8 or when they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.
- Seat Belt - When children outgrow their booster seats, they can use seat belts, but they still should sit in the back of the vehicle. All children should ride in the back seat of the car until they are at least 13 years old.