Starting with a child’s very first journey home from the hospital, parents are responsible for making sure that their children travel safely. Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in children, and more kids die in automobile crashes than in any other type of unintentional injury. Protect your kids by following simple safety measures and by teaching them some basic rules.

In an important initiative that supports the Qatar National Road Safety Strategy 2013-2022, Sidra Medical and Research Center’s Health Promotion team launched a car seat safety awareness campaign at the Sidra Outpatient Clinic in February this year.

The team partnered with Kulluna, a progamme by Hamad Medical Corporation for Safer Kids, to offer parents advice and guidance on how to properly use a child’s car seat, and also helped install car seats and conducted child safety seat checks. During the campaign, visitors to the Sidra Outpatient Clinic were taught by Child Passenger Safety Technicians on how to fix a car seat appropriately. Pamphlets with the top five requirements in a car seat were given out to parents at the clinic during the campaign.

Child Passenger Safety Technicians

There are currently eight health promoters at Sidra who have been certified as Child Passenger Safety Technicians. Fatima Al Muhamadi, a Sidra health promoter, said:

‘Child car seat safety should be the first thing that all parents need to consider when travelling with their child. There is a high percentage of car seats that are not used or installed correctly. This even applies to child restraints and seat belts. We urge parents to make use of this fantastic service by Kulluna. Installing a car seat properly and following some key safety rules can go a long way towards saving a child’s life.’

A properly fitted car seat can save a child’s life in an accident, but parents often don’t have it installed correctly. Car seat safety awareness campaigns are being held to teach parents about the proper use of child car seats and how they could prevent death and serious injuries among children due to road traffic accidents.

With a large number of parents not opting for a car seat for their children, Kulluna began this initiative which strongly emphasises on car passenger safety for children. Safe Kids Qatar partnered with Kulluna in making the initiative a success.

The programme since its conception, has trained 120 Child Passenger Safety Technicians, with a majority of them from the health sector.

A four-day training session focuses on teaching participants to become child passenger safety technicians so that they can teach parents and caregivers how to choose and correctly install the appropriate car seat for their children.

The front seat is a hazard for young children

A child sitting in the front seat of a car is the most vulnerable in a traffic accident, particularly under the age of four. Almost all children who suffer serious injuries or die in road accidents in the country were likely not in a car seat, according to Dr Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, Director of Hamad International Training Centre and Chairman of the Kulluna safety campaign.

Child passenger seats are recommended for all children until the age of 10 years and it is essential to select the appropriate seat for every child depending on height and  weight.

Child Passenger Safety Technicians at awareness campaigns spot mistakes and show parents how to fix errors, making the seat safe and suitable for the child.

Guidelines for choosing a car seat

Choose a seat with a label that states that it meets or exceeds the Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. Accept a used seat with caution. Never use a seat that’s more than six years old or one that was in a crash (even if it looks okay, it could be structurally unsound).

Avoid seats that are missing parts, are not labelled with the manufacture date and model number (you’ll have no way to know about recalls), or do not come with an instruction manual.

Also, check the seat for the manufacturer’s recommended ‘expiration date’. If you have any doubts about a seat’s history, or if it is cracked or shows signs of wear and tear, don’t use it.

If you accept a used seat, call the manufacturer to find out how long they recommend using the seat and if it was ever recalled. Recalls are quite common, and the manufacturer may be able to provide you with a replacement part or new model.

Airbags and children

When combined with safety belts, airbags protect adults and teens from injury during a collision. They have saved lives and prevented many serious injuries. But young children can be injured or even killed if they are riding in the front passenger seat when an airbag opens.

Airbags were designed with adults in mind: They must open with great force (up to 200 miles per hour) to protect an average-sized, 75 kg male from injury. While this force is appropriate for adults and bigger children, it can be dangerous for small children, possibly resulting in head and neck injuries.

Moving on to a seat belt

Most children can safely use an adult seat belt sometime between ages 8 and 12. Here’s how you’ll know that your child is ready:

  • Your child reaches a height of 4 feet 9 inches (nearly 1.5 metres).
  • Your child can sit against the back of the seat with his or her knees bent comfortably at the edge of the seat – and can remain that way for the entire trip.
  • The lap belt rests flat and snugly across your child’s upper thighs, and the shoulder belt rests on the middle of your child’s shoulder and chest – not on the neck or face.

Remember, the back seat is the safest place for children younger than age 13. If you have questions about child passenger safety or need help choosing a car seat, visit a Child Passenger Safety Technician. 4003 3333,

Author: Sarah Mascarenhas

Note: This article has been extracted from Marhaba’s Issue No 68 Spring/Summer 2017, available this April . For more featured articles, pick up Marhaba’s Issue No 68 Spring/Summer 2017 only QR20 from the nearest hypermarket or bookstore to you.

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