Rockland County reminds you: Is your child in right car seat?

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As part of the upcoming National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 16-22, the Rockland County Department of Health reminds parents that child safety and booster seats can prevent serious injuries, save lives and work best when used properly.

Research shows that four out of every five child safety seats are not installed or used properly, which increases the risk of injury. Also, as children age, they are less likely to be in the right child safety seat for their age and weight.

"Be sure your children are in the right car or booster seat for their age and weight, that it is correctly installed in your car and that it is used every time your child is in the car. Not only will your child ride as safely as possible, but also you will be laying the foundation for a lifelong habit of seat belt use every time your child travels," said Dr. Joan Facelle, Rockland County commissioner of health.

Follow these child passenger safety recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

• Birth-12 months: Keep all children under age 1 in a rear-facing car seat in the backseat of your car. The middle position in the backseat is the safest place to install your child's car seat.

• 1-3 years: Keep your child in a rear-facing position as long as possible. Safety experts advise parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until your child 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 in the backseat of your car.

• 4-7 years: Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until your child 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, but still in the backseat.

• 8-12 years: Keep your child in a booster seat until your child is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must go snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should be snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Keep your child in the backseat at least through age 12. Take the five-step test at www.carseat.org to find out if your child is ready to use safety belts without a booster seat in your car.

New York State's child restraint law states that all children must be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system while riding in a motor vehicle until they reach their eighth birthday.

An appropriate child restraint system is one that meets the child's size and weight recommended by the manufacturer.

The safety belt in your vehicle is not designed for children. A booster seat raises your child up so that the safety belt fits your child correctly and provides better protection.

For more information on this law, visit www.safeny.ny.gov/sesa-ndx.htm. For more information about child passenger safety, call the Health Department's Childhood Injury Prevention Program at (845) 364-3865 or visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.safercar.gov/parents/RightSeat.htm.

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