Is your child a part of the booster club? If they are under 4 feet 9 inches tall, they should be. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80 to 90 percent of children who should be in booster seats, are not. Parents often let school-aged children slide on this issue, but the fact remains that booster seats save lives.
Who should use a booster seat?
Children outgrow toddler seats when they reach 40 pounds, but this does not mean they can sit in a vehicle on their own. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, a toddler seat is too small, but a seat belt is too big. In order to find just the right size, a child needs to be in a booster seat. Lap belts often fall across the neck and can cause serious injury in the event of a crash.
Why do kids need a booster seat?
Booster seats are the law in 47 states and the District of Columbia. But if that is not enough reason, know this, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children from ages 2 to 14 according the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2002, seven children were killed each day in crashes in the United States, while 830 were injured, per day! The reasons for using booster seats are obvious, but parents often give in to the "big girl" or "big boy" and let them sit without the proper safety equipment.
What if my child is embarrassed?
Booster seats do not have to be an embarrassment. There are several seats designed for the older child complete with side pockets and cup holders. Backless seats are cheaper and less conspicuous than high back models. Adjust the seat so that the ear level of the child's head is not be above the top of the back cushion of the car seat. Be sure to use both the lap belt and the shoulder strap when a child is in their booster.
What if no one else is using one?
Since many kids do not reach the height and weight requirement before they turn 8, there are kindergarten, first and even second grade students who should be part of the booster club. For this reason, it can be helpful to get your local school involved. Ask community safety workers and your child's teacher to help make booster seats more common. Some ideas include:
Organize a Booster Club at school. Use the activities in this booklet created by the U.S. Department of Transportation. There are printable mazes, games and songs to teach children in class or at home.
Create a "Me and my Booster Seat" bulletin board. Invite the kids in the class to bring in photos of themselves in their booster seat to hang on the board. Reward those who have photos up with a treat and a booster club button.
Set up booster seat grants. Partner with the PTA or other community group to plan fundraisers in order to purchase booster seats for families in need. Consider asking local businesses for donations for a raffle or host a bake sale to raise funds.
Keep your child safe. Even if no one else listens. Before long your kindergartner will be driving and if you expect them to follow the rules of the road, be sure you set the best example possible.
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