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DID YOU KNOW??? A public service of the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board and this newspaper CHILD SAFETY SEATS – USE AND MISUSE New York’s occupant restraint laws require that children under the age of four be restrained in federally-approved child safety seats. From the age of four until they reach their 10th birthday, children must continue to be belted in when they ride in the back seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that infants riding in automobiles be kept rear-facing until they are at least one year of age AND weigh at least 20 pounds. Also, if your car has a passenger-side airbag, you should NOT place an infant in a rear-facing child safety seat (CSS) in front of the airbag. Either disable the air bag (many vehicles have a switch to turn off the passenger-side airbag) or place the infant in the rear seat facing backward. It is estimated that more than one-third of young children in this country still ride unrestrained in motor vehicles. Based on the results of child safety seat checks conducted across NYS, the misuse rate of those that are restrained is as high as 90%. Misuse of CSS is categorized by safety experts as gross, serious, and minor. Gross misuse makes a CSS virtually useless and can result in death or serious injury. Examples of gross misuse include: Not securing the child into the CSS. Not anchoring the CSS to the vehicle. Positioning an infant facing forward in a vehicle. Placing an infant rear-facing in front of an airbag. Serious misuse also may lead to serious injury or death. This includes: Using the wrong size or type of CSS for your child. An example is using an infant-only CSS for a child weighing more than 20-22 pounds. Using the CSS harness incorrectly. Failing to properly tighten the safety belt through or around the CSS. Using an incorrect belt path for the CSS’s seating position. Using an incorrect recline angle, especially for an infant. Minor misuse includes failing to put the harness retainer clip at chest level (to keep the harness straps on the child’s shoulders), permitting excess slack in the harness straps, knotting the harness (which reduces its strength), using a CSS that has been in a crash or is more than 10 years old, and using a CSS equipped with a “shield” for a very small infant. So, how do you know how to properly install a CSS? The two best sources of information are your vehicle’s owner’s manual and the instruction manual that comes with your child safety seat. If you still are unsure, there are certified child protective seat technicians in Franklin County and across NYS. Malone, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake Police Departments as well as the State Police have at least one safety seat technician. Call your village police department or the nearest state police station or Troop B headquarters in Ray Brook for assistance. Know the law and be knowledgeable about your child’s safety seat.
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