For Immediate Release: September 20, 2011

Safe Kids NC Reminder: Sept. 19-25 is Child Passenger Safety Week

Parents, caregivers can ensure kids are buckled in safely at "Seat Check Saturday" events

RALEIGH -- Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 19-25 and Safe Kids North Carolina is urging parents and caregivers to make every trip in a vehicle a safe trip for children.

"Children depend on adults to choose an appropriate child safety or booster seat for them, install it properly and use it every time you take them for a ride in a car," said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, chair of Safe Kids North Carolina. "Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of children between ages 3 and 14, and we all need to take child passenger safety seriously."

An alarming number of children are not properly restrained while riding in vehicles; according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly three out of every four child safety seats are used incorrectly. As children grow, they should progress through four steps of restraints:

Birth-12 months -- Children 12 months and younger should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats; infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and three-in-one car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1-3 years -- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should ride rear-facing until at least 2 years of age. Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It's the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4-7 years -- Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat that is located in the back seat.

8-12 years -- Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember, your child should continue to ride in the back seat because it is safer there.

"Seat Check Saturday" events will be held on Sept. 24 in communities across North Carolina. These events will provide free car seat inspections and training to help parents and caregivers buckle kids in safely.

Safe Kids North Carolina is partnering with Safe Kids Robeson County for the statewide kickoff from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 24 at Lumberton Chevrolet's "Seat Check Saturday," 500 Linkhaw Road in Lumberton. To find a scheduled event in your area, click on this link.

More than 100 permanent checking stations are located at fire stations and other sites around North Carolina. To see the list of permanent checking stations by county visit the the Buckle Up NC Web site. Safe Kids North Carolina reaches out to parents, caregivers and children to prevent childhood injuries through 36 Safe Kids Coalitions working in more than 64 counties. For more information, visit NC Safe Kids.