Public Car Seat Safety Check at North Country Hospital, Saturday, 10 am – 1 pm

When you find out you will be driving with a little one, you may think you can just pop in any car seat you find and go, but it’s not always so simple. Or perhaps your baby is growing and now you aren’t even sure how to adjust the seat properly or wonder if it’s time for a booster seat.  You aren’t alone – many people struggle to install car seats, adjust them as needed and even forget that car seats can be recalled for issues. No matter what your challenge is, it’s always worth it to make sure all kids are riding safely.

Sadly, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that, “in 2019, 608 child passengers age 12 and younger died in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 91,000 were injured. Of the children 12 and younger who died in a crash (for whom restraint use was known), 38% were not buckled up. Parents and caregivers can make a lifesaving difference by checking whether their children are properly buckled in on every trip.” Vermont isn’t immune to car seat challenges either.

In Vermont child safety seats/car seats are required by law. The DMV shares that, “All children under the age of one, and all children weighing less than 20 pounds, regardless of age, shall be restrained in a rear-facing position, properly secured in a federally-approved child passenger restraining system, which shall not be installed in front of an active airbag.” There are no exceptions or exemptions in Vermont for safety seats and it is suggested that you reach out to a pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s needs and their safety seat.

Riding in a car where a child isn’t properly restrained isn’t just dangerous and illegal, but it can cost you some large fees. Refusal of following the child passenger safety laws includes fines for the first three offenses. These fines will increase if you add on other infractions like smoking in a car with a child which is also illegal or if the driver is also not in a seat belt. In addition to these fees, a child who isn’t properly seated in a safety seat could also cost them their life. Safety seats are mandatory because they save lives!

The good news is, there are so many options for kids to safely ride in cars. From preemie babies to your early adolescent child, there are numerous ways to keep them safe. In general, all kids under 8 should be in a child safety seat or booster. Older kids up to 15 years old may also require boosters depending on their size and needs. According to Vermont car seat laws, children also can’t ride in the front seat until they are 13 years old or older. Any children younger than that must ride in the back seat.  All people in the state of Vermont are required to properly wear a seatbelt in a moving vehicle. Parents, family and friends can help model this behavior by always wearing their seatbelt and reminding those around them to do the same.

There is such great news and research when it comes to safety seats, because they work at keeping kids safe. The CDC reports:

Car seat use reduces the risk for injury in a crash by 71–82% for children, when compared with seat belt use alone.

Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children age 4–8, when compared with seat belt use alone.

For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by about half.

The laws, rules and guidelines can be overwhelming, and you do not have to do this all on your own. No matter your car seat question or issues, we are here to help! This Saturday, October 16th at North Country Hospital, there will be a car seat safety check! Join us for this free event from 10 am – 1 pm and have the professionals help you out. Additional information and resources will be available to you that day. There will also be free car seats and boosters onsite for those who qualify for the Vermont Low Income Car Seat Program. Help us spread the word so we can keep all our kids safe! Come one, come all, let’s get those seats checked so all our local kiddos can ride safely.