National Child Passenger Safety Week is a yearly reminder that many child passenger deaths are entirely preventable.

Yes, there are campaigns and telethons hosted by famous people to raise money or aid for countries or areas affected by Hurricanes or Earthquakes, which can bring immediate awareness and urgent requests for help from many different entities.  However, there are other campaigns that run throughout the year and are just as, if not more, important in curbing the chance that there will be a large loss of innocent life. National Child Passenger Safety Week is one of them. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the MCPD (Montgomery County Police Department's) Twitter page has brought much needed attention to the issue of child passenger safety with the help of other agencies like the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The campaign is meant to "generate awareness about the importance of the proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts" and is running through the end of this week. Every year, far too many children die in automobile accidents because they were either not in a car seat or they were in a car seat that was recalled, expired, or not designed for their height/weight. These are considered preventable deaths and the goal of National Child Passenger Safety week is to raise awareness and prevent them. The Montgomery County Place Department also urged on their Facebook page that "parents and caregivers ... ensure that their child has the proper safety protection in a vehicle (car seat, booster seat, seat belt) based on the child’s age, height, and weight, and to know Maryland law regarding child passenger safety laws."  Information on Maryland child passenger safety laws can be found here. [caption id="attachment_4098" align="aligncenter" width="505"]Image of Caption, "Let's Celebrate Child Passenger Safety Week! NHTSA." Image of Caption: "Let's Celebrate Child Passenger Safety Week! NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat."[/caption] There is a lot of helpful information at the Child Passenger Safety Board website as well. Car collisions are the leading cause of death for children below the age of 13. It is estimated that a child is involved in a car crash every 33 seconds in the United States. These deaths are very preventable.

What can parents and adults do to keep their child passengers safe?

Read up on the materials. There are a number of excellent brochures published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You can download the NHTSA toolkit to help parents and others make sure their young passengers are safe in a vehicle here. When it comes to picking a car seat for your child, the first thing you need to do is pick the right seat. A child's age, weight, and height all contribute in deciding which car seat or booster seat to choose. Once you arrive at a model, it is important to make sure that the seat hasn't been recalled or pulled from the market. Many people who purchase car seats second-hand or re-use car seats they bought years ago for another child run the risk of unknowingly putting their kid in an expired or recalled seat. Unless you are purchasing a child car seat brand new, right off the shelf, make sure that the seat you are using is actually safe. Car seats are typically good for six years after manufacture and those important dates can usually be found either on the back or underside of the car seat. You can also use the seat's manufacturer information and serial number to determine whether it has been recalled. Car seats are meant to keep children safe, but they can only work if the seats themselves are safe! Many retailers - like Target or Babies R Us - will actually run programs where you can turn in your expired seat and receive a significant discount towards the purchase of a new seat. Also, make sure that the seat you are using is a good fit for your child. Read up on the height, weight, and age ranges that your seat is designed for. Putting a child in a car seat that is either too big or too small for him or her can be just as dangerous as buckling them in with just a seat belt. And if your child demands that he or she be allowed to sit in the car without a car seat, don't just take their word for it. Once your kid reaches seven or eight years old, they're going to want to ditch the booster seat and ride in the car like an adult. Just remember that your child will never know more than the team of doctors, scientists, and engineers at the Department of Transportation or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration...

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