Child Passenger Safety Week is an annual event that focuses on parent education surrounding safe car seat use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents and their consequent resulting injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. In fact, about four children per day die due to auto-related accidents.

The worst part is that many of these deaths could be prevented if parents and caregivers would simply take a moment to make sure their child’s car seat is installed correctly. A survey released this year by AAA and Dorel Juvenile Group shockingly found that as many as 75% of infant and child car seats on the road today are not installed correctly. Making sure your little one’s car seat is installed correctly is an easy fix. Keep reading to learn more and to get some tips on safer, greener car seats as well.

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Infant & Child Car Seat Installation Tips

In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week here are some key car seat safety tips for parents:

  • Not sure which car seat your child needs? Visit the 4 Steps for Kids car seat program which easily spells out which car seat to use when. The program covers rear and forward facing seats, booster seats and seat belts.
  • Children grow at different rates and restraints must be checked frequently to ensure they still are safety securing your child.
  • For the best possible protection infants belong in rear-facing seats, located in the back seat of your car. Children should never be seated in a forward-facing before age 1 and weighing at least 20 pounds.
  • Once your child outgrows his rear-facing seats, he should ride in a forward-facing child safety seat, in the back seat of your car, until he reaches the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat.
  • Kids too old for forward-facing car seats should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly.

Score a Free Car Seat Inspection

This Saturday, September 25th there will be FREE safety seat checkup events taking place all over the country. Head to a local safety seat checkup and an expert will make sure you’ve installed your child’s car seat correctly. Keep in mind – there are safety seat checkup all year round, not just this Saturday and right now there are officially 101,000 Child Passenger Safety Technicians in the U.S. If you miss the Saturday event, you can still locate a car seat inspection station.

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Find a Non-Toxic, Greener Car Seat

When it comes to car seats, eco-friendly shouldn’t be your first concern. Safety, in this instance, is much more important than how green your car seat is. That said, you may be able to find a semi-greener and less toxic car seat. Here are some tips.

  • Car seats aren’t that eco-friendly by nature. Most are made with a ton of plastic, which in this case is necessary for safety. However, another problem with car seats are chemicals. Many car seats contain icky stuff like bromine, lead and chlorine. You can find a car seat that off-gasses fewer (to zero) of these harmful chemicals. HealthyStuff has a large child car seat list that scores car seats on their chemical make-up. You can also see their best and worst car seats round-up.
  • Think an organic car seat cover will green up your child’s ride? Think again. Car seat covers are deemed unsafe by almost all child safety organizations. The only safe car seat cover is the one that came with the seat, or one approved by the car seat manufacturer. Plus, keep in mind that simply covering up toxins like lead or chlorine won’t protect your child. Off-gassing still occurs.
  • If it’s chilly, you can tuck an organic blanket over your baby once he’s buckled in, but do it correctly. Harness your baby first and then cover him with a blanket (never cover your baby’s head).If you are looking for a more eco-friendly car seat try Orbit. Orbit offers infant seats and toddler seats made with micro-fiber upholstery fabric certified clean by the International Oeko-Tex Association.
  • While used is considered eco-friendly, when it comes to car seats, experts recommend not buying a used car seat. While you can check for recalls, you can’t know if a car seat was in an accident. If a car seat is in an accident, and even if it’s seemingly unharmed, it may need to be replaced. The only time a used car seat is considered entirely safe is if you know 100% the car seat’s history; for example, you used it for your first baby.
  • Clean it green. You can keep your car seat clean with easy homemade green cleaners, or simply a bit of natural soap and a little warm water. Toxic chemicals run rampant in cleaning products. There’s no reason to use chemical cleaners to clean a car seat.
  • Most of all let your voice be heard. Greener car seats are a seriously untapped market. Tell car seat manufacturers that you’d like to see organic and natural materials used when possible. Tell them you want recycling options and offsetting during the manufacturing process.

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More Resources for Child Seat Safety

+ Orbit Infant Seat $400.00

+ Orbit Toddler Car Seat $360.00

[Images: ready to go via Joe Shlabotnik; car seat + wish via Neeta Lind; baby seat via Tammra McCauley.]