In Southern Colorado, even the smallest passengers face some of the biggest dangers on the road. After 40 years of having child safety seats, traffic accidents are still the biggest killer of our children, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
News5 decided to do a mock car seat installment lesson with State Trooper, Captain Brian Lyons. "Seats are made differently and there are so many seats out there, that they [parents] are like how do I know which one I should buy?" Capt. Lyons said.
It took more than an hour to learn how to properly install an infant child safety seat; A lesson that so many parents fail. "Every 33 seconds one child under the age of 13 was involved in a crash, and on average about three children die everyday," said Laura Dunn, with the NHTSA.
A child can be seriously injured if they are buckled in wrong, facing the wrong way, or wearing the wrong clothing. "You invest so much time, energy, and love into having a child, and then some of the things we see time and time again are expired, cracked, or defected seats," Lyons said.
Lyons helps parents install their child safety seats several times a week. The state trooper says labels matter! The first step he teaches parents, is how to understand the complicated labels that are taped to the back or side of the car seat.
If the seat has an infant carrier, put the base in first. Lyons teaches parents how to use regular house hold items, like a pool noodle, to make sure the seat is level.
After the base is installed, fit your baby in the harness, and make sure it's not too tight. Now, your baby is ready to be strapped in.
While conducting a demonstrating, Lyons pointed out how the seat should always face backwards, and not forward. "Keep them rear-facing as long as possible, normally up until two years old," Lyons explained. "The American Pediatrics recommends two years old, or until they reach the maximum height or weight, one or the other, of their seat."
Lyons says this allows the back of the car seat to absorb the brunt of the impact in a crash, protecting the child's spine from injury.
The last step: buckle your child up without a puffy winter coat. Instead use a blanket. According to Lyons, those puffy jackets tend to have air in them. When you buckle up your child in their winter coat, the air will eventually dissipate, making the seat looser than it actually is.
Need help getting it right? Colorado State Patrol is here to help. Give Trooper Lyons a call for a class on how to properly buckle your child by calling 719-288-2636.