We here at the office all have children and are very concerned about the safety of our kids and other Alaskan kids while traveling in vehicles. A recent collision in the Anchorage area brings this to mind in which two minor children were ejected from the vehicle due to improperly installed car seats. Luckily, in this instance the two children sustained non-life threatening injuries. While car seats are designed to safely secure children in vehicles, if used improperly they can cause unnecessary harm. In addition to proper installation, consideration must be given to the clothing worn by the child while restrained in the car seat. With the onset of winter in Alaska and the sub-zero temperatures, children need to be properly outfitted for the temperatures. However, it is possible that bulky winter gear could compromise the safety of the child restraint system. Here are a few things to consider regarding car seat safety:
- Heed all height and weight limits
- Refer to the car seat instructions for proper installation
- Consult a certified child passenger safety technician to check your car seats
- Follow all instructions for cleaning and or washing car seat covers as it could compromise the integrity of the car seat parts in the event of a collision
- Check to make sure that car seat covers (if used) do not hinder the function of the car seat harness
- Make sure the car seat harness is close to the child's body at all times (this is where bulky winter gear could get in the way)
- Check the car seat for safety recalls when purchasing new or used equipment
For more tips on car seat safety and winter gear, please see http://babyproducts.about.com/od/carseats/a/carseatcoat.htm?r=et.
For local information you can contact the Alaska Injury Prevention Center at 929-3939 or Safe Kids Alaska at 212-3194, www.carseatsak.org for free car seat safety checks offered in your area.