In Rhode Island the leading cause of childhood deaths due to injury is motor vehicle accidents. The Injury Prevention Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital (IPC), in partnership with the Kohl’s Cares Kids on the Go Program, has launched a new program to reduce these preventable injuries. The Inpatient Car Seat Program screens all children under the age of 13 admitted to the hospital to ensure they are properly restrained in an appropriate car seat or booster seat, before they leave the hospital.
The program incorporates five child passenger safety questions into the standard nursing admission assessment given upon admission at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. If the screening identifies a safety concern, the patient’s family is referred to the IPC for a follow-up. The program was launched in the spring of 2013, and has since generated hundreds of referrals.
The main goal of the program is to identify the most urgent cases, when a child needs a car or booster seat and there isn’t one in the vehicle they’ll be taken home in. The IPC’s team will then work to make sure the child has an appropriate car seat or booster before discharge.
“Some parents may not realize that if, for example, their child was admitted after a car accident, they cannot use the same car seat that was involved in the accident, even if it doesn’t appear damaged,” said Dina Morrissey, MD, program coordinator for the Injury Prevention Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. “If we can help just one family to be safer on the roads and prevent a vehicular injury, then this program has succeeded.”
Morrissey offers some general guidelines for parents on child passenger safety:
- Keep children in a rear facing car seat as long as possible, at least until they are two years old.
- A child needs to be at least 4’9” to safely ride with just a seat belt.
- A child should be a minimum of four years old and 40 pounds before transitioning to a booster seat.
- Children should sit in the back seat if they are under the age of 13.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions.
- Read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system.
- Check height and weight limits on your car or booster seat.
- Children should use a car seat for as long as possible, if the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
The correct use of passenger restraints can reduce the risk of fatal injury by up to 71 percent. For more information on car seat safety, or to schedule a free appointment for a car seat inspection, please contact the Injury Prevention Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, at 401-444-2208 or http://www.rhodeislandhospital.org/injury-prevention.html