How a tape measure and scale can save your child’s life

Babies are measured and weighed frequently in the first few years of life so parents and pediatricians can be sure they are getting a healthy start. But as kids get older, many parents don’t know exactly how tall or heavy their children are. Knowing your child’s height and weight, and using the right car or booster seat when they travel, could save their life.

Booster seats protect children who are too big for a car seat but too small for a seat belt. And yet, according to “Buckle Up: Booster Seats,” a new study released by Safe Kid Worldwide, an alarming number of parents are allowing kids to use a seat belt alone before they are big enough. The report, funded in part by a $ 2 million grant from the General Motors Foundation, surveyed parents of children ages 4 to 10 and found that seven in ten do not know that a child should be 57 inches tall to ride in a car without a booster seat. Furthermore, in practice, nine out of ten parents move a child from a booster seat to a seat belt too soon.

While car seats, booster seats and seat belts are engineered to offer more protection than ever, anyone who drives a child needs to remember to use a booster seat until a seat belt alone fits safely. Safe Kids offers this easy tip: a child needs to be at least 57 inches tall (4 feet 9 inches) and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds to ride with just a seat belt.

Motor vehicle crashes are the second-leading cause of death for children 4 to 10 years old in the U.S. In 2012, 340 children of this age died in motor vehicle crashes. A third of these children were riding without a restraint that could possibly have saved their lives. Booster seats can reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent compared to seat belts alone.

The report also found that carpooling can be a particularly risky time for small passengers. One in five parents whose children carpool say they “bend the rules” when driving, letting children ride without seat belts and without the car seat or booster seat they would normally use. And 61 percent of parents say they notice other carpool drivers bending the rules.

Safe Kids Worldwide also recommends these tips for parents:

* Buckle up every ride, every time, in the right seat. This is important for everyone, both drivers and passengers. Make buckling up a habit starting when kids are young.

* Remember: A child needs to be at least 57 inches tall (4 foot 9 inches) and weigh 80-100 pounds to ride with just a seat belt. Weigh and measure your child today.

* Be confident that a car seat is installed properly. Learn more about car seat safety and find a car seat inspection event near you by visiting safekids.org.


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