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  • The What to Expect Guide to Car Seat Safety

          From the first time they cradle a newborn in their arms, new parents worry about keeping that very precious bundle safe. Taking their babies outdoors for the first time, they are always careful to wrap them up (often overbundling them) against the elements, fearful of the consequences of a sudden gust of wind or sprinkle of rain. Yet millions of these same parents fail to protect their children where it counts most--in the car. Though brief exposure to adverse conditions usually will have no ill effect on a newborn --or an older child--riding unprotected by the appropriate child safety seat or riding in one that is improperly anchored or fastened can have devastating results.
         In 1997 alone, 3,357 children in the U.S. under the age of 15 were killed in car crashes, and hundreds of thousands were injured. That's an average of 9 children killed every day. Many of those injuries could have been prevented--if appropriate child safety seats had been used consistently and correctly. Still, recent studies show that only about half of all children are buckled into a safety seat each and every time they ride in the car, and more than 80 percent of all safety seats may not be properly installed or used. This booklet is dedicated to changing these alarming statistics by showing parents how to choose the right child safety seat, how and in what position to install it, how to use it, and how to keep children happy (at least relatively) while they're secured in it.

    With this information, you and your child can sit back and enjoy the ride safely.
          Today's vehicles are designed to provide safe seating for adults--they gave front and rear seat belts, and many are equipped with driver and front passenge air bags. But to make vehicles safe for infants and children, it's necessary to provide specially designed child safety seats, to install them correctly and in the right location, and to use them without fail when on the move. (You may also see these devices referred to as "child safety restraints," "car seats," or "child restraint systems." To avoid confusion, the term "child safety seat" will be used throughout this booklet.) Safe seating for your child requires:

    The right safety seat. When choosing a child safety seat, always look for a label indicating compliance with Federal Motor Vehicls Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213; or if you live in Canada, Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) 213. For additional assurance, look for restraints that meet the quidelines of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J1819.
          The right type of safety seat will depend on your child's age and size. Models my very from manufacturer to manufacturer, so always read the accompanying information and, if al all possible, try the seat in your vehicle before purchasing.
    Each of the following safety seats, if used properly, can save a child's life:

    A rear-facing infant seat. This type of restraint supports a young baby's back,

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