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Tips for Choosing the Correct Child Safety Seat

August 16, 2013 Posted By Vanguard Attorneys

While today’s vehicles are equipped with air bags and advanced onboard crash computers designed to protect adults in a crash, using a properly sized child safety seat is the best way to protect a child in case of an accident. All fifty states require that children of the ages three and below be secured in car seats when riding in privately owned vehicles. Kentucky requires the use of a child seat for children less than 40”-tall, regardless of age.

Safety seats come in a wide range of sizes to properly fit during each stage of a child’s growth. While many brands and models offer a variety of comfort features and washable fabrics, parents should ensure that whichever model they select meets certain age and size-specific design criteria.

A Guideline to the Four Types of Child Safety Seats

Using a child’s car seat correctly starts with selecting the appropriate seat configuration for your child’s height and weight. The back seat is statistically the safest place for children and experts recommend the use of child safety seats in the back seat at all times unless your vehicle does not have back seats. The four steps below identify the recommended progression of seat types along with each corresponding age group to help maximize safety:

  1. Rear-Facing Safety Car Seat (Birth – Month 12): Babies under 12 months should always ride in rear-facing safety seats. “Infant-only” seats can only be used as rear-facing and some can also be detached from the base, doubling as portable hand-carry baby seats. 3-in-1 convertible seats offer more longevity and also have higher height and weight limits for the rear facing position.
  2. Forward Facing Safety Car Seat (Years 1 – 3): Your child should be kept in the rear-facing position until the maximum height and weight limits are exceeded. Once the child has grown beyond rear-facing limits, switch to a forward-facing seat with a harness. Convertible seats can be reconfigured to face forward.
  3. Booster Seat (Years 4 – 7): Again, your child should remain in a forward facing seat until the manufacturer’s maximum height or weight limit is exceeded. Next, move to a seat specifically designated as a child booster seat. Most booster seats allow the seat belt to be secured in front of the child rather than the separate harness used with car seats.
  4. Seat Belt (Year 8 – Height Maturity): Use your child’s booster seat until he/she is big enough to be properly fitted with a seat belt on its own. Proper fit means that the lap belt lies naturally and snugly across the child’s upper thighs, not across the abdomen. The shoulder belt should fit comfortably across the shoulder, or the collarbone, and chest. It should not cross the neck or touch the face. Never allow the children to tuck the shoulder strap behind them.

General Tips for Maximum Safety at All Ages

  1. Always read through your child safety seat’s manufacturer instructions and your vehicle’s owner manual to learn how to operate a child car seat. Your car’s owner’s manual will indicate if it is equipped with the LATCH system. The LATCH system offers the safest method of securing a child seat. If the LATCH system is not equipped, follow the instructions on properly securing the child seat using the rear seat belt.
  2. It is important to keep your child in each safety seat as long as possible. Do not progress to the next seat-stage until manufacturer’s height and weight requirements are exceeded.
  3. The back seat is the safest place for a child. Keep your child riding in the back seat through at least age 12.

References:

Parents Central – Car Seats & Booster Basics –http://www.safercar.gov/parents/RightSeat.htm

Baby Center – Car seat safety: The biggest mistakes parents make, and how to avoid them – http://www.babycenter.com/0_car-seat-safety-the-biggest-mistakes-parents-make-and-how-to_64875.bc

16 AUG / 2013

Children, Gun Safety, and the Law

ELIZABETH MUNRO

In the wake of the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy, gun control has again become a national focal point and subject of heated disputes. Other high-profile incidents, such as the shooting of Sanford teen Treyvon Martin by a neighborhood watch member, have placed the state of Florida and its firearm laws under the public microscope.

Firearm safety seems to have a common, direct connection to children’s safety. Gun violence is an unfortunate component of American society and law enforcement, but the topic receives special attention and varying arguments when the controversial topic involves children. There are strong arguments that are in favor of exposing kids to firearms and promoting gun safety/awareness at a young age. Some parents argue that teaching kids about firearms properly reduces firearm accidents because it removes the curiosity and taboo associated with them. Others argue that guns and safety training are unnecessary.

Florida and Child Access Prevention Laws

Florida is one of several states with Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws. It is a misdemeanor offense to allow or to fail to stop a child under the age of 16 from gaining access to firearms. Firearms in the home are required to be secured in a locked box, container, or secured by a gun lock. This also applies to relatives who may have children visiting their homes regularly.

The state of Florida imposes additional criminal liability on the firearm owner in cases where the firearm is improperly secured and the child is caught in possession of the firearm in public and/or uses the firearm in a threatening manner.

Local News and Child Accident Statistics

In early May, a 3-year-old Tampa boy died after he was shot in his uncle’s apartment. The boy, Jadarrius Sprights, was believed to have removed a loaded 9mm handgun from his uncle’s backpack in the living room. The boy’s uncle, 29-year-old Jeffrey Walker, apparently left the loaded weapon unsecured in the backpack. Jadarrius accidentally shot himself while handling the gun. Walker purchased the gun legally and holds a CCW permit, but has been arrested and charged with Culpable Negligence under Florida’s Child Access Prevention (CAP) law. Under Florida CAP law, Walker was responsible for securing the handgun with a gunlock or inside a locked container, or otherwise preventing access to the gun, while it was in the same living space as his nephew. If convicted, Walker faces potential prison time associated with a third degree felony.

From December of 2012 to May of 2013, at least 71 shooting deaths have claimed the lives of children under age 17.

  • 40 of those deaths were unintentional/accidents, 31 were alleged homicides
  • The average age of the victims was just under six years old
  • At least 29 accidental deaths occurred when a child under 17 pulled the trigger
  • Florida was the leading state for most child deaths (four accidents, five alleged homicides)

Nearly all of the 40 accidental deaths were violations of CAP laws and may have been prevented by the use of gun locks or locked cases.

References:

Citrus County Sheriff Firearms Guide (pdf) – http://www.sheriffcitrus.org/pdf/FlFirearmsGuide.pdf

Summary of State Child Access Prevention Laws (pdf) –http://www.leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/LAW/Documents/SummaryOfStateChild

AccessPreventionLaws.pdf

WFLA (.com) – http://www.wfla.com/story/22188603/three-year-old-boy

Mother Jones Magazine – http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/05/gun-deaths-children-newtown-caroline-sparks-crickett-firearms

Categories: Automotive Safety
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