JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The car seat for Diana Patterson's 2-year-old son Alex is in the center of the back seat of her SUV. She's heard it's the safest place for the most vulnerable child. "And if you have two, keep one in the middle, put one on the side," she says.
According to the Madison Fire Department's Educator, Lisa Valadie, Patterson is right. "The best place is the middle of the back seat, if it fits correctly," Valadie says.
On Friday, the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, a 7-year-old child was critically injured in an SUV accident on I-20 near Bolton. A tire blew out, the vehicle flipped, and the boy was ejected. Out of six children inside the vehicle, only the one-year-old child, fastened securely in a child safety seat, was not injured.
Valadie says the seat belt threaded through the car seat should be tight enough to keep the seat upright. Make sure you tighten the harness straps too. The chest clip should be at the child's armpit level.
The importance of a car seat for a child from birth to age four should not be underestimated.
"A seat belt in a vehicle is designed for adults that weigh at least 80 pounds and are 4'9". They're not made to hold a small child," Valadie says. "It helps them ride down the crash forces, holds them in their seat, makes it a little easier on the child."
Children ages 4 to 7 should be in a booster seat.
If you're not sure how to secure a child in a car seat. There's plenty of help available to you. "When we had ours installed, we went to a class at River Oaks Hospital where they taught us to install it. After that, they said we could go to a local fire department and have it checked, which is what we did," Patterson says.
If you would like your child's car seat checked for safety, call the Madison Fire Department at 601-856-8894 or Mississippi Safe Kids in Jackson at 601-360-0531.
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