BOISE – This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, and AAA is reminding grown-ups to help keep kids safe in cars.

“As responsible adults, it’s our job to watch out for the children in our lives.  That includes helping them stay protected in the event of a crash,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “When used properly, seat belts and car seats dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury and death due to a collision.”

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Check the expiration date on car seats and booster seats and replace as needed.  Car seats are rated for a limited number of years before components start to wear out.
  • Select the right car seat or booster seat for the job, one that is designed for your child’s current height and weight.
  • Children should ride in a vehicle’s back seat in rear-facing safety seats from birth until at least age 2, or until they reach their convertible seat’s upper weight limit, which should be around 35 pounds. Be sure both age and weight requirements are met before a child is moved to a forward-facing seat.
  • Ask a local police or fire department about opportunities to double-check that a car seat is properly installed.
  • Bones develop at a predictable rate based on age.  When kids are 13 years old, their bones are better equipped to handle the force of an airbag deployment in the front seat.  Until then, the back is where it’s at!
  • Teach kids to buckle up for every ride, no matter how long, and listen for the ‘click.’ Wait until everyone is buckled in before driving.
  • The lap belt should be low and tight across the child’s hips and upper thighs, not the abdomen.  The shoulder belt should cross the chest and shoulder, across the sternum and collarbone.
  • Remember, no one “ages out” of the need and benefits of wearing a seat belt.

With warm days still in the forecast, AAA also reminds parents and caregivers to never leave children or pets in a vehicle unattended.  Cabin temperatures can heat up by more than 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes, resulting in heatstroke and death, even with the windows cracked and the vehicle parked in the shade.

“We know that parents take their role seriously,” Conde said.  “We all lead very busy lives, and sometimes we need a quick refresher to make sure things continue on a positive note.”