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Keeping Your Child Safe in the Car

09/19/2016

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Three out of four child safety seats are used incorrectly. Everyone needs to buckle up, but it’s the responsibility of parents and caregivers to make sure kids are buckled in properly, from infancy to adolescence. In observance of National Child Passenger Safety Week, we’re reviewing Oklahoma’s laws for child passengers and sharing tips to ensure your children are riding safely.

Child passenger safety laws in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s new laws for child passengers went into effect Nov. 1, 2015.

Birth to 2 Years: Rear-Facing All infants must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat until they turn 2 years old or until they exceed the car seat’s weight and height limits. 2 to 4 Years: Forward-Facing Until they reach age 4, all children need to be secured in a car seat with an internal five-point harness. 4 to 8 Years: Booster Children between 4 and 8 years of age must sit in a booster seat or child restraint system, unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. 8 Years and Older: Seat Belt All children older than 8 or taller than 4 feet 9 inches should be restrained in a seat belt. Seat belts with a diagonal strap across the chest and over the shoulder are the safest option. No child younger than 13 is legally allowed to ride in the front seat.

Get your child’s car seat checked for free

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office works with Safe Kids Oklahoma and the Injury Prevention Service to provide a statewide car seat and booster seat program. Anyone can make an appointment with their county health department to make sure their child safety seat is properly installed. They also hold events periodically to promote free car seat checks. Use the Safe Kids website to find an upcoming free car seat check event near you.

Child safety seat assistance for eligible families

Various Oklahoma agencies and organizations provide a limited number of car seats and booster seats for free or for a reduced cost to families eligible for WIC benefits or other state assistance, such as Medicaid, SNAP or TANF. Infant Crisis Services hosts bi-monthly car seat events to provide new safety seats to eligible Oklahoma City-area families. The next event is this upcoming Saturday, Sept. 24. “We’ll be providing more than 100 car seats, for a suggested donation of ten dollars if the families are able,” says Kynsey Lira, family services coordinator at ICS. “We have three certified car seat technicians on staff who will help install the seats, show the families how to do it, and answer any questions. Families who are interested in getting a seat should be at our office by 7:30 a.m. on those days, because they do go fast,” Lira advises. “We just love making sure babies and older kids are riding home safely. With the new laws that changed last November here in Oklahoma, the standards for safety are higher than ever. It’s awesome to see parents, grandparents and caretakers making sure their kids are as safe as possible,” Lira says. For more information about other local events, contact your county health department.

Child safety seats save lives

When used properly, child safety seats can reduce fatal injury risk by up to 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. Remember, the back seat is always the safest place for babies and kids to ride. Front air bags can harm young children. Let’s make sure our kids are safely buckled every time we get in the car.

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