Why are safety car seats important? Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of kids!
Why? In many cases, children are either not properly buckled into their safety seats or parents don’t realize that a booster seat is vital to ensuring children fit safely in their vehicle’s seat belt. It is probably the most overlooked thing here in Malaysia where I have personally seen many parents quite happy to not use a safety car seat or a booster seat. Most common is where the parent holds on to the child at the back seat. Quite a famous scene here in Malaysia.
I have a son who is about to turn three in a couple of months and I cannot stress enough importance on using a safety car seat. We are truly unlucky that such safety rulings have not been enforced here in Malaysia. In most foreign countries, it is compulsory to use a safety car seat for children.
The objective of this post is to introduce you to safety car seats if you are not familiar with them and hopefully, you will take action by installing them in your car for the sake of your kids. This post may be long but PLEASE read it!
Let’s start with the three types of car seats most commonly used.
1. Rear-Facing Car Seat
Age Group: Up to 2 years old
In April 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) published new guidelines on children in car seats, recommending that children ride rear-facing until at least age 2. Yes, you read it right. Two! This includes newborns so you are not holding that baby of yours when you leave the hospital but he/she is going to be comfortably buckled up in a rear-facing safety car seat.
A lot of good car seats actually start of being rear-facing and then allowing you to swap it around to a forward facing one.
It is also important to know that research has shown that children aged 0-2 are 5 times safer riding in a rear-facing car seat versus a forward facing one. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing.
“The ‘age 2’ recommendation is not a deadline, but rather a guideline to help parents decide when to make the transition.
2. Forward-Facing Seat
Age Group: 2 to 7 years old (Depends on the weight supported by the car seat)
The front-facing safety car seat can be used once the child has passed two years of age. It should be locked in place safely with a seat belt or the latches which come in your car. (Follow the instructions that come with the seat or get a professional to help). A regulation passed in 2002 made it compulsory for all US manufactured cars to have LATCH system for securing safety car seats. There is also a standardized system called ISOFIX. Cars are required to have ISOFIX points to help secure the safety seat.
Shocking Truth: Most Malaysian cars do not have the ISOFIX point. We use a Perodua ALZA which does not have this ISOFIX point making it rather difficult to properly install the car seat.
3. Booster Seats
Age Group: 4-12 years old
Once your child is tall enough, you can then move them to a booster seat. A booster is a belt positioning device – the booster’s entire job is to make sure the seat belt stays on the proper parts of the child’s body. The key difference between a safety car seat and a booster seat is that for the safety car seat, you use the 5 point harness which comes with the seat but for the booster, the child is secured by the car seat belt.
When do you move away from the booster seat? A child can stop using the booster seat once they pass the 5-step test.
It is important to note that most kids are actually 10-12 years old before they can get off the booster seat. Surprised? I hope that after reading this, you will take the necessary action of installing safety car seats in your cars.
What if I have three kids and all require a safety car seat?
You can install three safety car seats at the back. This is not uncommon but may not work for all cars.
It would be a good time to evaluate the car you drive or also the options of using two cars if the car seats cannot fit but this is certainly not an acceptable excuse to endanger your child’s life!
There are plenty of information out there on car seats and this is something I urge every parent to take seriously. You may feel fun holding your child in the car while it moves but it cost the life of your precious one. Your car should not move until everyone is buckled up.
If you are wondering what Zeenee and I chose for Saivhes, we picked a car seat from First Years. I posted this back in March 2011 but you can still read it here and get some info on this particular safety car seat.
Lastly, please share this post with any parent you know. Encourage them to use a car seat and hopefully such laws will soon be passed in Malaysia.
Featured Image Source: Flickr@seandreilinger