Kids Health Matters: Car seat safety

It's holiday time, and that means families are hitting the road. Whether the trip is long or short, everyone should ride safe and secure.

All child car seats are built to the same safety standards, but parents shouldn't assume they'll fit in every car.

A safety collaborative which includes Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that 40% of potential cars and seat combinations weren't compatible.

And higher-price doesn't translate to a good fit.

Mom, Megan Murphy, says, "I couldn't believe that the car seat at we purchased wouldn't work in our car."

Safety expert Gina Duchoissois says before you buy - "try the car seat in the car."

And if you already have a seat, take time to re-check the fit.

"We want to make sure that car seat is nice and tight," said Gina.

Also check the tilt, particularly for newborns and infants too young to hold their heads up.

"Make sure we keep his airway open, that he is laying comfortably," said Gina.

Gina says rolled up towels and such shouldn't be used to adjust the fit unless the manufacturer says it's okay.

The center back seat is the first choice for a safety seat.

"It simply is the furthest point of impact from either side of the vehicle," said Gina.

But if you have to use the side, be sure the head rests don't interfere with the child seat, whether it's rear-facing front-facing.

As kids grow, don't rush to move them to the next seat. Maximize the height and weight limits on the one you have for better crash protection.

When it does come time for a booster seat, Gina suggests: "Have him sit in some of the booster seats, see how he likes them, how he fits in the booster."

Children's Hospital has many more safety tips online, and offers free seat inspections.

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