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Reminder: Check Your Child's Car Seat

February 28, 2014- Tom Joseph

HARRISBURG - Your car will remind you to check the oil, but experts say it's also important to check what's carrying your most precious cargo. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said child deaths in car crashes have declined by 43 percent over 10 years, but there's still work to do, because for one in three fatalities for children ages 12 and under, the child was not properly restrained.

Erin Sauber-Schatz, Transportation Safety Team lead in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention at the CDC, said parent education and car seat distribution help make sure more children are buckled up properly.

"Child passenger restraint laws that increase the age for car seat or booster seat use result in getting more children buckled up," she stressed.

Health care providers also play a role in making sure children are safe in cars and trucks. Sauber-Schatz suggested a conversation in the doctor's office.

"They can counsel parents and caregivers at each well-child checkup to use age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats and seat belts on every trip," she said.

In general, the CDC recommends all children should be in the back seat of vehicles until age 13. Rear-facing car seats are for infants up to age 2. Front-facing seats are suitable from 2-5. And booster seats are to be used until a child has grown enough for a seat belt to fit properly across the chest and lap.

In Pennsylvania, children under age 4 must be secured in a car seat, and kids from 4-8 must be either in a car seat or a booster seat, unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall. The CDC reported that about 12 children die in car crashes each week in the United States.

The "CDC Vital Signs: Child Passenger Safety" report is at www.cdc.gov.

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