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Buckling up for every ride is critical — every parent should know that. But keeping track of the best way to keep your child safe can be a challenge. But it’s easy to ensure your child’s car safety seat is installed safely.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every 33 seconds a child under 13 is involved in a car crash in the United States.

Cynthia Fryer, manager of Safe Kids Upstate, said children should stay in rear-facing child safety seats until age 2 or to the maximum height or weight for their car seat. When a child moves up to the next level of car seat is dependent not upon a national standard, but upon the recommendations for the specific seat and the car in which it is installed.

“It is really important that families understand that not all car seats go to the same height and weight,” Fryer said. “That is not standardized. The safety mechanism is standard but the height and weight are not.”

Fryer said parents should get their child’s car seat installation checked by a trained technician. Nationally, about 75 percent of car seats are not installed correctly. In South Carolina, that number jumps to about 85 percent, Fryer said.

Rear-facing car seats should never be installed in front of air bags, she said.

“If it’s in a truck with no back seat, you have to be able to turn off the air bag,” she said.

For cars with side airbags, Fryer said parents should check the car’s manual to determine the best seat placement.

“That means a car seat was actually crash tested in those positions, so they know how that seat will act,” she said.

Booster seats, which are the last step before a child is ready to be restrained by only a seat belt, will move, but car safety seats should not move more than an inch to the left or right.

“The thing that holds the booster seat in is your child’s weight and the seat belt,” Fryer said. “There are a couple that have a tether, but it still moves. It is a belt-positioning device.”

Fryer said parents should put a sign or note in the car seat before taking their vehicle to a car wash, noting that the seat should not be unbuckled or moved. And with summer temperatures on the rise, everyone should build in a reminder system so no child gets left in a hot car.

“Put your phone or purse — something you know you will need — in the back seat to ensure you don’t leave your child alone even for a minute,” Fryer said. “It happens to the best of us, especially when it’s not our regular routine.”

Get a checkup!

Free car seat safety checks are available throughout the Upstate. For Greenville County and Easley locations, visit http://www.ghschildrens.org/kohls.php. For Spartanburg County locations, visit https://www.safekids.org/coalition/safe-kids-spartanburg.

Find more on www.upstateparent.com

Find more health and wellness stories like this, as well as other stories relevant to Upstate moms and dads, on www.upstateparent.com.

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