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A&M Agrilife extension service helps parents navigate car seats

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 5:31 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Passenger Safety Project just finished celebrating National Child Passenger Safety Week on Friday.

So First News at Four sat down with Rosalinda Marez, who works with the organization, to talk about what they did and what they’re still doing to help parents keep their kiddos safe in the car.

While every year the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Passenger Safety Project travels the state doing car seat checkup events during National Child Passenger Safety Week, this year was different. But the important message stayed the same: car seats, when used correctly, save lives.

At this time, more than ever, parents have so many other things on their minds. But they also need to remember to make sure that their children are riding safely on every trip.

“Nationally, car seat misuse is reported as 59%,” Marez explains, “but our Passenger Safety Project in overseeing more than 35,000 inspections sees a 98% rate of misuse.”

She says her organization made a quick and easy video, click here to watch, to help parents navigate the process of safely installing car seats.

Broken down, the video looks something like this:

The 5 Most Common Car Seat Mistakes

1.            Selection – Always select the seat that is appropriate for the child’s age, weight, height, and physical development. Do not move the child to the next step prematurely. Always use the seat to the maximum limit. Make sure children ride in boosters until they fit the adult lap/shoulder belt. This is sometime between the ages of 8 and 12.

2.            Direction – The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should stay rear-facing until they reach the maximum weight and height for their car seats. All rear-facing convertible car seats go to at least 40 pounds rear-facing while others go to 45 or 50 pounds rear-facing. That could keep the average child rear-facing until age three or more. The rear-facing child is the safest passenger in the vehicle.

3.            Harnessing – The harness should be at or below the shoulders for rear-facing and at or above for forward-facing. The harness chest clip should always be across the chest armpit to armpit to make sure the harness stays on the child’s shoulders and prevents ejection. Do the pinch test at the child’s shoulders to make sure you cannot pinch up any of the webbings. Do not use heavy jackets under the harness the coat will leave slack in the harness straps.

4.            Installation – For rear-facing seats, the seat must be at the correct angle. Use the LATCH system or seat belt. Most car seats and vehicles do not allow both systems to be used at the same time because they have not been tested that way. One is not safer than the other. Use the system that you’re comfortable with and gives a secure installation. The LATCH System has weight limits that need to be checked. Read your vehicle manual and the manual form the car seat to know how to lock your seat belt for a car seat. The seat belt must stay locked at all times. The top tether is an important part of a forward-facing harness seat installation.

5.            Inspection – At this time, the Passenger Safety is doing virtual inspections. You can call 979-571-3925 to set up a free virtual car seat inspection.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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