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Tips of the Week for June, 2018

How to Build an Essential Summer First Aid Kit
06-25-2018

How to Build an Essential Summer First Aid Kit

 

By: Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, FAAP

Every year the summer arrives with full force in my ER: cutstickspoison ivy, infected bug bitessunburnseye injuriesbroken bones, and all other kinds of summer fun gone wrong. Luckily, you can easily treat or prevent much of the summer craziness if you are prepared.

Being prepared means you need a "Dr. Mom" first aid kit and know how to use it. Although pre-made store-bought first aid kits are a good start, these kits typically lack many items you'll need for your family.

Shopping List for Your Summer First Aid Kit

So to help you get ready, I have prepared a shopping list below for your summer first aid kit. Get it built now, so that you spend your summer having fun, not in the ER.

  • Pre-made first aid kit: It's cheapest and easiest to start by buying a pre-made kit, because otherwise it is difficult to find small packages of all the different kinds of gauze, tape, and antibiotic ointment you will need. Find a large kit with a sturdy container with extra space to hold all the things you will add to it. Or, get a small duffle bag or backpack to hold your first-aid kit, and start by putting the pre-made kit in the bag. Be sure the pre-made kit includes Band-Aids, gauze, tape, antibiotic ointment, and anti-itch or steroid ointment.
  • Water bottle for cleaning out wounds: The first thing you'll need to do with a crying kid is clean out their wound. And the nearest water source is probably too far to walk. You can use your water bottle to treat dehydration, too.
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine): Benadryl is probably the most important over-the-counter medication to have in your first aid kit—it's a first line treatment for insect bites, hives, and other allergic reactions that can be deadly. Some premade kits will include Benadryl tablets, but if you have young children be sure to include a bottle of liquid, Children's Benadryl or the generic equivalent. Benadryl is also a great treatment for an attack of seasonal allergies
  • EpiPen: If you have a family member with a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), ask your physician for a prescription. I keep mine in the outside pocket of my first aid kit for quick, easy access.
  • Numbing spray: Wound numbing spray can be purchased over-the-counter at any pharmacy and can really save-the-day when a child is burned, sunburned, or has a painful cut or scrape.
  • Prescription medication: Ask your physician for an extra prescription for any medication you use frequently, especially asthma and allergy medications. Keep the extra supply in your car first-aid kit. You'll be grateful when you can stay at your child's sporting event rather than head home for an inhaler or other medication.
  • Ibuprofen and Tylenol: Most pre-made kits include these standard pain medications, but you will have to add the liquid kind for children.
  • Dramamine, nausea medication: There's an easy fix for vomiting, car sick kids—nausea medication. Don't leave home without it. You'll kick yourself for not having it while you clean the vomit out of your car.
  • Sunblock: The worst sunburns occur when you least expect it—at sports events, or while doing yard work. Have some 30+ sunblock ready to cover those little spots on your ears and neck that your hat doesn't cover. Include some SPF lip balm or ChapStick, too.
  • Bug spray: The best protection comes from a repellant that contains 30% DEET. Insect bites are annoying at best, but at worst they get scratched and infected. We are seeing a growing number of insect bites that become infected with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA, which is difficult to treat.
  • Afrin nasal spray for nosebleeds: Although I generally don't recommend Afrin nasal spray for congestion related to allergies or illness, Afrin is a quick fix for a nosebleed. This medication causes the capillaries in the nose to constrict, thereby limiting the blood flow to the nasal mucosa and stopping the bleeding.
  • Hydrocortisone ointment: This inexpensive over-the-counter medication will treat almost anything that itches—insect bites, poison ivy, etc. If you stop the itch, the kids won't scratch, and you reduce the risk of secondary infection.
  • Flashlight/headlamp: If you don't have a reliable light on your cell phone, include an LED flashlight or headlamp. You can buy these very affordably now, even at the dollar store. A flashlight is not just for nighttime injuries—you'll need a bright light to get a good look at splinters, or look in kids' mouths, ears, etc.
  • Baby wipes: Even if your kids are out of diapers, a pack of baby wipes is infinitely useful in the car, especially for keeping hands clean and wiping noses.
  • ChapStick: ChapStick or lip balm can sooth cold sores, lip injuries, and sunburned lips in addition to regular chapped lips. You'll be glad you have it when you child complains about their chapped lips for the sixth time in ten minutes while you are on a family outing.
  • Clean towel: A nice clean towel is perfect for setting up your first-aid station while you dress a wound or remove a splinter. It's also useful for containing bleeding on bigger injuries. Consider a highly absorbent microfiber towel that can be stuffed into a small space.
  • Feminine hygiene supplies: Besides their obvious uses, tampons and maxi pads are very helpful for wound management and are an essential part of any first aid kit. Did you know that the modern tampon was invented in the 1800's for management of bullet wounds? An OB-style tampon can very effectively treat a persistent nosebleed. The smallest OB tampons fit nicely in the nose. Bleeding wounds can be easily controlled with a maxi-pad held in place with an ace wrap.
  • Premade finger splint: Not sure if that finger is broken or not? Just put it in a pre-made finger splint until you get your child to the doctor. You can buy premade finger splints at any pharmacy.
  • Alcohol wipes: I mostly use these for sterilizing my first aid kit instruments, such as tweezers and scissors. They are also useful for cleaning skin before trying to remove splinters.
  • ACE bandage: Although a first line treatment for sprains and strains, ACE bandages are also useful for holding bandages in place on bigger wounds, and holding splints on fractures.
  • Small scissors: For cutting dressings to the right size, cutting medical tape, opening packages, trimming fingernails and hangnails, etc.
  • A bottle of Gatorade: Very useful for hypoglycemia, dehydration, etc. Also useful as an occasional bribe for an over-tired, hungry child.
  • Ziploc bags: Ziplocs are essential for keeping track of teeth that fall out or are knocked out. Did you pull a tick off your child? Stick it in the Ziploc bag for later identification. Certain kinds of ticks are more likely to carry pathogens that cause Lyme disease and other illnesses.
  • Tweezers & small magnifying glass: I mostly use these for removing splinters, but occasionally they are necessary to remove bugs from ears, fishing hooks from fingers, etc. Of note, tweezers are NOT the best way to remove a tick—tweezers often cause you to remove the tick body and leave the head in the skin. The best way to remove a small deer tick is to scrape it off with a credit card. You can clean the credit card first with your alcohol wipes. Here's more on how to remove a tick.

Keep Your First Aid Kit in Your Car

You'll never have to remember to pack it. If you need something while you are at home, just go out and get it. If you have more than one family car, consider making a first aid kit for each car.

Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org:

About Dr. Berchelmann:

Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician at Mercy Children's Hospital, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Missouri School of Medicine, and an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kathleen and her husband are raising six children.

 

 

 
Last Updated
 
4/29/2015
Source
 
Copyright © 2014 Kathleen Berchelmann M.D., FAAP
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
All information provided by HealthyChildren.org

Lightning & Sports Safety: When Thunder Roars Go Indoors
06-20-2018

 

Lightning & Sports Safety: When Thunder Roars Go Indoors

 

​​​​​By: Alex B. Diamond, DO, MPH, FAAP

Chances are wherever you live the weather is probably subject to change at a moment's notice—especially during the spring and summer months. Thunderstorms and lightning can occur with little warning. If your child is playing or practicing in less than ideal weather conditions, you need to be aware of the possible hazards and have a plan worked out ahead of time.

Basic Lightning Facts & Stats

  • It does not have to be raining for lightning to strike.

  • All thunderstorms produce lightning. If you can hear thunder, the storm is close enough for lightning to strike.

  • Lightning strikes can cause death or permanent disability. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), more than 400 people in the United States are struck by lightning each year, resulting in an average of 49 deaths.

  • The NWS reported that 17% of lightning deaths between 2006 and 2013 occurred during outdoor sports or recreational activities. These sports include soccergolfrunningbaseball, and football, in rank order. The greatest number of fatalities occurred in the 10 to 19-year-old and 20 to 29-year-old age groups. Many victims were either headed to safety or just steps away from safety at the time of a fatal lightning strike. Therefore, taking action before the threat is upon you is key!  

Lightning & Sports Safety Tips from the AAP

While our message of getting outside, enjoying nature and promoting physical activity remains unwavering, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement, Baseball and Softball, advises all coaches and officials to be aware of extreme weather conditions—including lightning—and to postpone or cancel games if conditions worsen and players are at risk.  This same message applies to all organized sports, as well as to all recreational outdoor activities.

Use and follow these recommendations to help prevent lightning injuries during sporting events and outdoor activities:

  • Prior to any practice or activity, the person in charge should check the local weather forecasts. Be aware of whether or not the NWS has issued a thunderstorm "watch" or "warning." A "watch" means conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop in an area; a "warning" means severe weather has been reported in the area and for everyone to take proper precautions. Activities should be delayed if a thunderstorm is approaching before or during a practice or a game.

  • Recognize the signs of a coming storm. Although lightning can strike without warning, when a thunderstorm is on the way, clouds may darken, winds may pick up, and there may be thunder activity. Pay close attention to these signs and any issued warnings.

  • Be sure your child understands the dangers of lightning and the policy that his or her coach needs to follow. If the coach doesn't follow the policy, as a parent, it's time to step in and remove your child from the field. Safety is the most important thing!

  • Be prepared and have established protocols for lightning incorporated into your school or league's Emergency Action Plans (EAPs). Develop and practice lightning strike prevention and treatment protocols as part of your EAP.

    • Designate a "weather watcher" and a clear chain of command to monitor and respond to severe weather.

    • In the event of impending thunderstorms, those in control of the event/venue should cancel the event, warn participants and spectators of the lightning danger, and specifically instruct on the proper procedure for evacuation.

    • The timeframe for evacuation depends on how fast the storm is approaching and the layout of the venue (the timeframe needed for everyone to seek safe shelter).  Generally, a lightning strike within 6 to 8 miles of the venue calls for evacuation.

  • Follow the 30/30 rule. Familiarize yourself with the flash-to-bang count to determine when to seek shelter. Begin counting when you see a flash of lightning. Stop counting when you hear thunder. Your child should be inside a safe shelter before you reach a count of 30. Dividing this number by five will determine the distance (in miles) to the lightning flash. If the activity has been delayed, wait at least 30 minutes following the last sound of thunder or lightning flash before your child resumes activity.

  • Make sure a safe shelter has been designated. Trees, flagpoles/light poles, tents, bleachers, dugouts, storage sheds, and open garages are not safe shelters! In fact, there are very few safe places outdoors when thunderstorms are in the area. The safest shelters are structures with four solid walls, and electrical and telephone wiring. If no safe shelter is available, your child should take shelter in a hardtop vehicle; don't touch the radio dial or the door handles—especially if they are metal.

  • Specifically avoid standing water and open fields. If you are in an open field, avoid being the highest point, in contact with, or near the highest point in the field.

  • If you feel your skin tingling, you are in more immediate danger. Assume the lightning safe position. This means crouching on the ground with your weight on the balls of your feet, your feet together, your head lowered, and your ears covered.

  • Even if you are indoors, stay away from open windows, sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, and electrical outlets. During a lightning storm, electric currents can run through these objects and "jump" onto a person—even inside a safe shelter. In addition, your child should never be permitted to swim during a lightning storm.

  • Invest in a NOAA Weather Radio and download the CoachSmart App. CoachSmart, a collaboration between Vanderbilt Sports Medicine and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, offers real-time information based on a user's GPS location on heat index and lightning strikes. The app also includes sports medicine and safety FAQs and a group contact feature. Coaches, trainers, and field managers who are responsible for several locations will find this CoachSmart incredibly useful! Find CoachSmart on iTunes.

  • Check out other weather apps and resources. There are several free weather apps that may downloaded and used for live-time, verified information. Some examples include the WeatherBug® app,  Storm by Weather Underground, and or the NOAA Weather Radar app. Parents, coaches, and spectators, as well as the designated "weather watcher," can utilize these apps to make objective recommendations whether there is need to cancel the activity and seek shelter.

  • If someone is struck by lightning, get the victim emergency help immediately and move him or her to a safe place. Contrary to what you may have heard, lightning can strike the same place twice. Initiate the chain of survival (call 911, begin CPR, apply AED). People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge and are safe to handle.

  • Remember that thunderstorms and lightning aren't the only weather hazardsExtreme heat can be almost as dangerous by posing an unnecessarily high risk of heat illness, such as heat stroke, so your child's team needs to establish a policy on cancelling or modifying practices or games if the heat index is too high.

Important note: Cell phones and/or email can transmit notifications to parents and families, but they should only supplement the other safety procedures listed above.  

Additional Information & Resources:

 

About Dr. Diamond:

Alex Diamond, DO, MPH, FAAP is a member of the executive committee for the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. He is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Orthopaedics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt where he specializes in pediatric sports medicine. Dr. Diamond is also a team physician for Vanderbilt University, the Nashville Predators, the Nashville Sounds, and several local middle and high schools. In addition, he is the co-founder and director of the Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports (PIPYS) and a blessed husband and father of two. Follow Dr. Diamond on Twitter @VandyPedsSports

​ 

 

 
Author
 
Alex B. Diamond, DO, MPH, FAAP
Last Updated
 
6/16/2016
Source
 
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2016)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on
individual facts and circumstances.

All information provided by HealthyChildren.org

It there An Unlocked Gun Where Your Child Plays?
06-13-2018

 

Is There An Unlocked Gun Where Your Child Plays?

 

On June 21, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence urges parents to ask a simple question to keep kids safe​

A gun, found by a child, can change lives forever in just a few moments. On June 21, the first day of summer, parents are reminded to ask other parents if there is an unlocked gun in the home where their child is going to play.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence created ASK Day to prevent injuries and deaths from guns that are stored unsafely in homes. The ASK (Asking Saves Kids) campaign promotes a simple idea with the potential to help keep kids safe. Ask, "Is there an unlocked gun in your house?" before sending your child over to play. 

Gun Safety and ChildrenAbout one-third of homes with kids have guns, many left unlocked or loaded. Just talking to your child about the dangers of firearms is not enough. Children are naturally curious. If a gun is accessible in someone's home, there is a good chance a child will find it and play with it. Countless tragedies have occurred when kids found guns that parents thought were well hidden or safely stored.​

The ASK Campaign Urges Parents:

​If your child is going to play or hang out at a home where he hasn't been before, ask if there is a gun in that home.

  • If the answer is no, that's one less thing to worry about.

  • If the answer is yes, then you need to ask how the gun is stored—it should be stored in a locked location and unloaded. Ammunition should be locked up separately.Gun Safety and Children

  • If you are not comfortable with the answers, you should invite the other child to play at your house instead.

​The AAP remains committed to reducing g​un injuries to children, and advocates for stronger gun laws, comprehensive access to mental health ​care, and necessary funding for federal gun violence research and prevention efforts.

Additional Information:

 
 
Last Updated
 
6/5/2018
Source
 
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances

All information provided by HealthyChildren.org.

Car Seats: Information for Families
06-04-2018

 

Car Seats: Information for Families

 

One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when riding in a vehicle. Each year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car safety seats helps keep children safe. But with so many different seats on the market, many parents find this overwhelming. If you are expectant parents, give yourselves enough time to learn how to properly install the car safety seat in your car before your baby is born to ensure a safe ride home from the hospital.

The type of seat your child needs depends on several things, including your child's age, size, and developmental needs. Read on for more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about choosing the most appropriate car seat for your child.

Click Here for a Listing of Car Seats & Car Seat Manufacturers

Types of Car Seats at a Glance:

This chart is a quick guide on where to start your search. It's important to continue your research to learn about each seat you use.grid

Car Seat Installation Information: Seat Belts & LATCH

Car safety seats may be installed with either the vehicle's seat belt or LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system. LATCH is an attachment system for car safety seats. Lower anchors can be used instead of the seat belt to install the seat, and many parents find them easier to use in some cars. The top tether improves safety provided by the seat and is important to use for all forward-facing seats, even those installed using the vehicle seat belt. Although the seat belt and LATCH systems are equally safe, caregivers may prefer one system instead of the other. Keep in mind that only one system should be used unless the car safety seat and vehicle manufacturer say it is OK to use 2 systems at the same time.

Vehicles with the LATCH system have lower anchors located in the back seat, where the seat cushions meet.

Tether anchors are located behind the seat, either on the panel behind the seat (in sedans) or back of the seat, ceiling, or floor (in most minivans, SUVs, hatchbacks, and pickup trucks). All forward-facing car safety seats have tether attachments that fasten to these anchors. Nearly all passenger vehicles and all car safety seats made on or after September 1, 2002, are equipped to use LATCH.

All lower anchors are rated for a maximum weight of 65 pounds (total weight includes car safety seat and child).

Parents should check the car safety seat manufacturer's recommendations for maximum weight a child can be to use lower anchors. New car safety seats have the maximum weight printed on their label.

Note: Seat belts—If you install a car safety seat using your vehicle's seat belt, you must make sure the seat belt locks to help get a tight fit. In most newer cars, you can lock the seat belt by pulling it all the way out and then allowing it to retract to keep the seat belt tight around the car safety seat. Additionally, many car safety seats have built-in lock-offs to lock the belt without having to lock the seat belt separately as well. Refer to the vehicle owner's manual for details about how your seat belt locks.

Middle of the back seat—The safest place to ride for all children younger than 13 years is the back seat. If possible, it may be best to ride in the middle of the back seat. However, it is sometimes difficult to install a car safety seat tightly in the middle if the vehicle seat is narrow or uneven. Also, many vehicles do not have lower anchors for the middle seating position. It is safest to put the car safety seat in a position where you can install it tightly with either the lower anchor system or seat belt; in some cases, this may be on either side of the back seat rather than the middle. A child passenger safety technician (CPST) can help you decide which place is best to install your child's car safety seat in your vehicle.

Rear-Facing Car Seats for Infants & Toddlers

The AAP recommends that all infants ride rear-facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 2 years of age or, preferably, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. When infants outgrow their rear-facing–only seat, a convertible seat installed rear facing is needed.

All parents can benefit from getting installation help from a CPST to ensure that their seat is properly installed.

Types of Rear-Facing Seats:

Three types of rear-facing seats are available: rear-facing–only, convertible, and 3-in-1. When children reach the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their rear-facing–only seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible or 3-in-1 seat.

Rear-facing–only seats

  • Are used for infants up to 22 to 40 pounds, depending on the model.
  • Are small and have carrying handles.
  • Usually, come with a base that can be left in the car.The seat clicks into and out of the base so you don't have to install it each time you use it. Parents can buy more than one base for additional vehicles.
  • Should be used only for travel (not sleeping, feeding, or any other use outside the vehicle).

Convertible seats (used rear facing)

  • Can be used rear facing and, later, "converted" to forward facing for older children when they outgrow either the weight limit or the length limit, for rear facing. This means the seat can be used longer by your child.
  • They are bulkier than infant seats, however, and they do not come with carrying handles or separate bases and are designed to stay in the car.
  • Many have higher limits in rear-facing weight (up to 40–50 pounds) and height than rear-facing–only seats, which make them ideal for bigger babies and toddlers.
  • Have a 5-point harness that attaches at the shoulders, at the hips, and between the legs.
  • Should be used only for travel (not sleeping, feeding, or any other use outside the vehicle).

3-in-1 seats (used rear facing)

  • Can be used rear facing, forward facing, or as a belt-positioning booster. This means the seat may be used longer by your child as your child grows.
  • Are often bigger in size, so it is important to check that they fit in the vehicle while rear facing.
  • Do not have the convenience of a carrying handle or separate base; however, they may have higher limits in rear-facing weight (up to 40–50 pounds) and height than rear-facing–only seats, which make them ideal for bigger babies and toddlers.

Installation Tips for Rear-Facing Seats:

Always read the vehicle owner's manual and the car seat manual before installing the seat.

When using a rear-facing seat, keep the following tips in mind:

 

  • Place the harnesses in your rear-facing seat in slots that are at or below your child's shoulders. Ensure that the harness is snug (you cannot pinch any slack between your fingers when testing the harness straps over the child's shoulders) and that the harness chest clip is placed at the center of the chest, even with your child's armpits.
  • Make sure the car safety seat is installed tightly in the vehicle with either LATCH or a locked seat belt. If you can move the seat at the belt path more than an inch side to side or front to back, it's not tight enough.
  • Never place a rear-facing seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an active front passenger airbag. If the airbag inflates, it will hit the back of the car safety seat, right where your child's head is, and could cause serious injury or death.
  • If you are using a convertible or 3-in-1 seat in the rear-facing position, make sure the seat belt or lower anchor webbing is routed through the correct belt path. Check the instructions that came with the car safety seat to be sure.
  • Make sure the seat is at the correct angle so your child's head does not flop forward. Check the instructions to find out the correct angle for your seat and how to adjust the angle if needed. All rear-facing seats have built-in angle indicators or adjusters.
  • Check the car safety seat instructions and vehicle owner's manual about whether the car safety seat may contact the back of the vehicle seat in front of it.
  • Still having trouble? Check with a certified CPST in your area who can help. See the end of this article for information on how to locate a CPST.
  • Watch the Video: How to Install a Rear-Facing Car Seat 

Common Questions about Rear-Facing Seats:

What if my baby's feet touch the back of the vehicle seat?

  • This is a very common concern of parents, but it should cause them no worry. Children can bend their legs easily and will be comfortable in a rear-facing seat. Injuries to the legs are very rare for children facing the rear.

What do I do if my baby slouches down or to the side in the car seat?

  • You can try placing a tightly rolled receiving blanket on both sides of your infant. Many manufacturers allow the use of a tightly rolled small diaper or cloth between the crotch strap and your infant if necessary to prevent slouching. Do not place padding under or behind your infant or use any sort of car seat insert unless it came with the seat or was made by the manufacturer for use with that specific seat. 

Why should I dress my baby in thinner layers of clothing before strapping him or her into a car seat?

  • Bulky clothing, including winter coats and snowsuits, can compress in a crash and leave the straps too loose to restrain your child, leading to increased risk of injury. Ideally, dress your baby in thinner layers and wrap a coat or blanket around your baby over the buckled harness straps if needed. See Winter Car Seat Safety Tips from the AAP

Do preemies need a special car seat?

  • A car seat should be approved for a baby's weight. Very small babies who can sit safely in a semi-reclined position usually fit better in rear-facing–only seats. Preterm infants should be tested while still in the hospital to make sure they can sit safely in a semi-reclined position. Babies who need to lie flat during travel should ride in a car bed that meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. They should be tested while in the hospital to make sure they can lie safely in the car bed.

Forward-Facing Car Seats for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Always read the vehicle owner's manual and the car seat manual before installing the seat. Any child who has outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for his convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by his car seat manufacturer. It is best for children to ride in a seat with a harness as long as possible, at least to 4 years of age. If your child outgrows a seat before reaching 4 years of age, consider using a seat with a harness approved for higher weights and heights.

Types of Forward-Facing Car Seat Restraints:

Four types of car safety restraints can be used forward facing:

  • Convertible seats: Seats can convert from rear-facing to forward-facing. These include 3-in-1 seats.
  • Combination seats with harness: Seats can be used forward facing with a harness for children who weigh up to 40 to 90 pounds (depending on the model) or without the harness as a booster (up to 80–120 pounds, depending on the model).
  • Built-in seats: Some vehicles come with built-in forward-facing seats. Weight and height limits vary. However, do not use built-in seats until your child is at least 2 years of age. Read your vehicle owner's manual for details about how to use these seats.
  • Travel vests: Vests can be worn by children between 20 and 168 pounds and can be an option to traditional forward-facing seats. They are useful for when a vehicle has lap-only seat belts in the rear, for children with certain special needs, or for children whose weight has exceeded that allowed by car seats. These vests may require use of a top tether.

Installation Tips for Forward-Facing Seats:

Always read the vehicle owner's manual and the car seat manual before installing the seat. It is important that the car seat is installed tightly in the vehicle and that the harness fits your child snugly.

To switch a convertible or 3-in-1 seat from rear-facing to forward-facing:

  • Move the shoulder straps to the slots that are at or above your child's shoulders, or position at or closest to (above or below, based on rear or forward facing) the child's shoulders. Check the instructions that came with the seat to be sure you are positioning the shoulder straps correctly. 

     You may have to adjust the recline angle of the seat so that it sits more upright in your vehicle. Check the instructions to be sure.
  • If using a seat belt, make sure it runs through the forward-facing belt path (be sure to follow car safety seat instructions) and that the seat belt is locked and tightened.
  • If using the lower anchors, make sure that the weight of your child plus the weight of the seat does not exceed 65 pounds. Most seats now state the maximum child weight to use the anchors in the manual and on the stickers on the side. If the child weighs too much, families must use the seat belt to install.
  • Always use the top tether when you can. A tether is a strap that is attached to the top part of a car safety seat and holds the seat tightly by connecting to an anchor point in your vehicle (often on the seat back or rear shelf; see your vehicle owner's manual to find where tether anchors are in your vehicle). Tethers give important extra protection by keeping the car safety seat and your child's head from moving too far forward in a crash or sudden stop. All new cars, minivans, and light trucks are required to have tether anchors as of September 2000. Forward-facing seats come with tether straps. A tether should always be used as long as your child has not reached the top weight limit for the tether anchor.
  • Check the car safety seat instructions and vehicle owner's manual for information about the top weight limit and locations of tether anchors.
  • Watch the Video: How to Install a Forward-Facing Car Seat

Common Questions about Forward-Facing Seats:

What if I drive more children than can be buckled safely in the back seat?

  • It's best to avoid this, especially if your vehicle has airbags in the front seat. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat. If absolutely necessary, a child in a forward-facing seat with a harness may be the best choice to ride in front. Just be sure the vehicle seat is moved as far back away from the dashboard (and airbag) as possible.

What do I need to know if my child will be driven by someone else, such as for child care or school?

  • If your child is being driven by someone else, make sure: 
    • To move the shoulder straps to the slots that are at or above your child's shoulders, or position at or closest to (above or below, based on rear or forward facing) the child's shoulders. Check the instructions that came with the seat to be sure you are positioning the shoulder straps correctly.
    • The car safety seat your child will be using fits properly in the vehicle used for transport.
    • The car safety seat being used is appropriate for the age and size of your child.
    • The person in charge of transporting your child knows how to install and use the car safety seat correctly.
  • Child care programs and schools should have written guidelines for transporting children, including All drivers must have a valid driver's license. In some states, school bus drivers need to have a special type of license.
    • Staff to child ratios for transport should meet or exceed those required for the classroom.
    • Every child should be supervised during transport, either by school staff or a parent volunteer, so the driver can focus on driving.
    • School staff, teachers, and drivers should know what to do in an emergency, know how to properly use car safety seats and seat belts, and be aware of other safety requirements.

Should my child ride in a car seat on an airplane?

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the AAP recommend that children less than 40 pounds be securely fastened in certified child restraints when flying. This will help keep them safe during takeoff and landing or in case of turbulence. Most rear-facing, convertible, and forward-facing seats can be used on airplanes, but booster seats and travel vests cannot. 
  • Read your seat's instruction manual and look for a label on the car safety seat that says,"This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft." You can also consider using a restraint made only for use on airplanes and approved by the FAA. Larger children may use the airplane seat belt or continue to use their car safety seat on the airplane as long as it is labeled for use on aircraft and the child has not exceeded the seat's weight or height limit. 
  • Remember that your child will need an appropriate car safety seat to use at your destination. For more information, visit the FAA Web site or the CARES Airplane Safety Harness for Children Web site

Booster Seats for School-Aged Children

Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing seats. All children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 through 12 years of age. Most children will not fit in most vehicle seatbelts without a booster until 10 to 11 years of age. All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.

Instructions that come with your car seat will tell you the height and weight limits for the seat. As a general guideline, a child has outgrown a forward-facing seat when any of the following situations is true:

  • He reaches the top weight or height allowed for his seat with a harness. (These limits are listed on the seat and also included in the instruction booklet).
  • His shoulders are above the top harness slots.
  • The tops of his ears have reached the top of the seat.

Types of Booster Seats:

High-back and backless are 2 standard types of booster seats. They do not come with harness straps but are used with lap and shoulder seat belts in your vehicle, the same way an adult rides. They are designed to raise a child up so that lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly over the strongest parts of the child's body.

Most booster seats are not secured to the vehicle seat with the seat belt or lower anchor and tether but simply rest on the vehicle seat and are held in place once the seat belt is fastened over a child. However, some models of booster seats can be secured to the vehicle seat and kept in place using the lower anchors or top tether. (Currently, only a few vehicle manufacturers offer built-in booster seats.)

Installation Tips for Booster Seats:

When using a booster seat, always read the vehicle owner's manual and the car seat manual before installing the seat. Booster seats often have a plastic clip or guide to correctly position vehicle lap and shoulder belts. See the booster seat instruction booklet for directions on how to use the clip or guide.

Booster seats must be used with a lap and shoulder belt. When using a booster seat, make sure:

  • The lap belt lies low and snug across your child's upper thighs.
  • The shoulder belt crosses the middle of your child's chest and shoulder and is off the neck.
  • Watch the Video: How to Use a Booster Seat 

If your booster seat has lower anchors or top-tether attachments, check its booklet for installation instructions.

Common Questions about Booster Seats:

What if my car has only lap belts in the back seat?

  • Lap belts work fine with rear-facing–only, convertible, and forward-facing seats but can never be used with a booster seat. If your car has only lap belts, use a forward-facing seat that has a harness and higher weight limits. You could also:
    • Check to see if shoulder belts can be installed in your vehicle.
    • Use a travel vest (check the manufacturer's instructions about the use of lap belts only and about the use of lap and shoulder belts).
    • Consider buying another car with lap and shoulder belts in the back seat.

What is the difference between high-back and backless boosters?

  • Both types of boosters are designed to raise your child so seat belts fit properly, and both will reduce your child's risk of injury in a crash. High-back boosters should be used in vehicles without headrests or with low seat backs. Many seats that look like high-back boosters are actually combination seats. They come with harnesses that can be used for smaller children and, later, removed for older children. Backless boosters are usually less expensive and are easier to move from one vehicle to another. Backless boosters can be used safely in vehicles with headrests and high seat backs.

Seat Belts for Older Children & Adults

Seat belts are made for adults. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult seat belts fit correctly, typically when children reach about 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 through 12 years of age. Most children will not fit in a seat belt alone until 10 to 11 years of age. When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.

Using a Seat Belt:

An adult seat belt fits correctly when:

  • The shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat.
  • The lap belt is low and snug across the upper thighs, not the belly.
  • Your child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her knees bent over the edge of the seat without slouching and can comfortably stay in this position throughout the trip.

Other points to keep in mind when using seat belts include:

  • Make sure your child does not tuck the shoulder belt under her arm or behind her back. This leaves the upper body unprotected and adds extra slack to the seat belt system, putting your child at risk of severe injury in a crash or with sudden braking.
  • Never allow anyone to share seatbelts. All passengers must have their own car seats or seat belts.

Common Question about Seat Belts:

I've seen products that say they can help make the seat belt fit better. Should we get one of these?

  • No, these products should not be used. They may actually interfere with proper seat belt fit by causing the lap belt to ride too high on the stomach or making the shoulder belt too loose. They can even damage the seat belt. This rule applies to car seats too; do not use extra products unless they came with the seat or are specifically approved by the seat manufacturer. These products are not covered by any federal safety standards, and the AAP does not recommend they be used. As long as children are riding in the correct restraint for their size, they should not need to use additional devices.

Shopping for Car Seats: Tips for Parents

When shopping for a car seat, keep the following tips in mind:

  • No one seat is the "best" or "safest." The best seat is the one that fits your child's size, is correctly installed, fits well in your vehicle, and is used properly every time you drive.
  • Don't decide by price alone. A higher price does not mean the seat is safer or easier to use.
  • Avoid used seats if you don't know the seat's history.
  • Watch the Video: What to Look For When Purchasing a Car Seat 

Never use a car seat that:

  • Is too old. Look on the label for the date it was made. Check with the manufacturer to find out how long it recommends using the seat.
  • Has any visible cracks on it.
  • Does not have a label with the date of manufacture and model number. Without these, you cannot check to see if the seat has been recalled.
  • Does not come with instructions. You need them to know how to use the seat.
  • Is missing parts. Used car seats often come without important parts. Check with the manufacturer to make sure you can get the right parts.
  • Was recalled. You can find out by calling the manufacturer or contacting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888/327-4236. You can also visit the NHTSA Web site.
  • Do not use seats that have been in a moderate or severe crash. Seats that were in a minor crash may still be safe to use, but some car seat manufacturers recommend replacing the seat after any crash, even a minor one. The NHTSA considers a crash minor if all the following situations are true:
    • The vehicle could be driven away from the crash.
    • The vehicle door closest to the car seat was not damaged.
    • No one in the vehicle was injured.
    • The airbags did not go off.
    • You can't see any damage to the car seat.
  • If you are unsure, call the manufacturer of the seat.

About Airbags

Front airbags are installed in all new cars. When used with seat belts, airbags work well to protect teenagers and adults; however, airbags can be very dangerous to children, particularly those riding in rear-facing seats, and to preschool- and young school–aged children who are not properly restrained. If your vehicle has a front passenger airbag, infants in rear-facing seats must ride in the back seat. Even in a relatively low-speed crash, the airbag can inflate, strike the car seat, and cause serious brain injury and death.

Vehicles with no back seat or a back seat that is not made for passengers are not the best choice for traveling with small children; however, the airbag can be turned off in some of these vehicles if the front seat is needed for a child passenger. See your vehicle owner's manual for more information.

Side airbags are available in most new cars. Side airbags improve safety for adults in side-impact crashes. Read your vehicle owner's manual for more information about the airbags in your vehicle. Read your car seat instructions and the vehicle owner's manual for guidance on placing the seat next to a side airbag.

If You Need Installation Help:

If you have questions or need help installing your car seat, find a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST). Lists of certified CPSTs and child seat–fitting stations are available on the following Web sites:

Important Reminders:

  • Be a good role model. Make sure you always wear your seatbelt. This will help your child form a lifelong habit of buckling up.
  • Make sure that everyone who transports your child uses the correct car seat or seat belt on every trip, every time. Being consistent with car seat use is good parenting, reduces fussing and complaints, and is safest for your child.
  • Never leave your child alone in or around cars. Any of the following situations can happen when a child is left alone in or around a vehicle. A child can:
    • Die of heat stroke because temperatures can reach deadly levels in minutes.
    • Be strangled by power windows, retracting seat belts, sunroofs, or accessories.
    • Knock the vehicle into gear, setting it into motion.
    • Be backed over when the vehicle backs up.
    • Become trapped in the trunk of the vehicle.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for your car seat. If you do not have those, write or call the company's customer service department. They will ask you for the model number, the name of the seat, and date of manufacture. The manufacturer's address and phone number are on a label on the seat. Also, be sure to follow the instructions in your vehicle owner's manual about using car seats. Some manufacturers' instructions may be available on their Web sites.
  • Remember to fill out and mail in the registration card that comes with the car safety seat. You can also register your seat on the manufacturer's Web site. It will be important in case the seat is recalled.

Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org:

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