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Car seat safety tips for holiday travel

By Jon Collins

A national nonprofit is partnering with two statewide public health organizations to educate Minnesota residents about how to safely use car seats for young children.

Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the United States, with an average of three children dying each day in traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Corazon Eaton of the group Buckle Up For Life said her organization has found that up to three-quarters of car seats are improperly installed.

“A properly installed car seat can reduce the risk of injury and death amongst infants by over 70 percent and among toddlers by over 50 percent,” Eaton said. “It’s important to get it right.“

Eaton said residents can find resources to ensure that car seats are installed properly on the group’s website or by contacting their partners in Minnesota, the Hennepin Healthcare Foundation in Minneapolis or Olmsted County Public Health Services in Rochester, Minn.

Since 2004, Buckle Up for Life said it’s distributed more than 60,000 free car seats nationwide.

“It’s in a class-based setting, so partners invite the community to come attend a class, and after attending the class and receiving education, [they] get a free car seat,” Eaton said. “Then they get installation assistance right then and there.”

Tips on proper car seat use from Buckle Up for Life:

•Use the inch-and-pinch test to make sure the seat is installed properly.

•Take off children’s puffy coats before buckling them in.

•Avoid used or rented car seats.

•Secure other items in the car.

•Make sure children are facing backwards until they’re 2 years old or exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat.