BALTIMORE (WMAR) — As many as 80 percent of parents unknowingly misuse their child’s car seats. With car crashes as a leading cause of death for kids, advocates are using Baby Safety Month to make sure car seats are being used and installed properly.
The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association holds Baby Safety Month every September to help parents safely navigate early childhood.
“A lot of parents and caregivers don’t have all the information they need to correctly and safely care for their kids and so this is our month to communicate with consumers and let them know some of the tips and the tricks and the importance of following manufacturer’s instructions,” said Joe Colella, director of child passenger safety for JPMA.
This week is Child Passenger Safety Week and Colella is spreading awareness about the top mistakes parents make when using car seats.
He said two to three children die every day in car crashes nationwide and in 2020, nearly half were completely unrestrained and of those in car seats, about half are not installed properly.
Car seats can help reduce the risk of crash injuries overall and can reduce the risk of fatal injury by as much as 71 percent. However, mistakes in choosing, installing or correctly using car seats can compromise the protection they offer.
“It’s one of the most dangerous places you carry your kids is in your car and the best thing we can do to protect those kids is have them correctly buckled up, so in the right car seat for their age and size and weight and development level and using that car seat correctly, installing it correctly in the vehicle and sometimes it’s confusing. There are lots of different vehicles. The seating positions all vary. There are lots of different car seats and so matching them up is difficult,” said Colella.
A few tips to keep kids safe in cars:
Effective October 1, a new Maryland law will require children ride rear facing until at least age 2 and children under 8 ride in an appropriate safety seat unless the child is taller than 4’ 8”.
Colella recommends getting your car seat installation inspected by a professional. A car seat check event will take place Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, 1100 Harvard Street NW, Washington, DC 20009.
Maryland KISS, or Kids in Safety Seats, also offers in-person seat checks and low cost seats to families who qualify. There are also virtual check options here.
In addition to car seat safety, JPMA offers other tips to keep kids safe at home and on the go.
Because children are very curious and always getting into things, JPMA recommends parents and caregivers start each morning with a daily safety check for potential hazards in their home from baby’s point of view—down on hands and knees—and offers the following tips to help with common safety questions.
JPMA said locks and latches to secure household items can prevent many injuries.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, each year in the United States, about 3,500 infants die of sleep-related infant deaths. The safest place for baby to sleep is in a bare, JPMA-certified crib or other approved sleep product.
For more information about Baby Safety Month and a complete list of safety tips, visit BabySafetyMonth.org.