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posted: 9/26/2017 5:38 PM

Editorial: Parents, think safety on car seats, medication

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  • Rita Chavez and her daughter, 4-year-old Samantha, get their car seats inspected by Palatine Police Department Certified Child Safety Seat Inspectors.

      Rita Chavez and her daughter, 4-year-old Samantha, get their car seats inspected by Palatine Police Department Certified Child Safety Seat Inspectors.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Monday wasn't a good day if you are a parent of a small child. If you read that day's Daily Herald, you would have been prompted twice to improve your parental skills.

The stories that detailed how parents are making safety mistakes with their child's car seat and are usually giving the wrong dose of medicine when their child is sick weren't meant to be lectures. But they did point out serious issues in which parents need to pay more attention to what they are doing or seek out help if they need it.

As transportation writer Marni Pyke reported, 59 percent of car seats are improperly installed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Research by the Elk Grove Village-based American Academy of Pediatrics shows 95 percent of seats with newborns, 80 percent of rear-facing and forward-facing seats and 40 percent of booster seats are being misused.

"If you give a test and 95 percent of the people taking it fail, you have to assume there's something wrong with the test," pediatrician Benjamin Hoffman, who did the research, told Pyke. "Car seats are hard to use and there's a lot of factors that feed into that."

Parents need to select the right size seat for their child and they need to make sure it is installed correctly. Don't assume you've done it right -- get it checked.

"Every kid is sized differently and every car seat is sized differently, so it can be difficult," AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher said.

AAA provides free inspections and instructions as do local police departments. To find someone local, go to buckleupillinois.org/CPS_Home.

The NHTSA also offers a tool to find the right seat by typing your child's age, weight and height at nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats#find-right-car-seat. (Yes, there is irony in that lengthy web address being used to make something simpler!)

But getting to the website is imperative for parents who want to learn the proper way to keep their children safe while driving. The agency reports that car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. In 2015, 248 children under 5 were saved by car seats.

Doctors also warn parents to remember two simple rules when administering medicine: Ask a medical professional or pharmacist about the medication dose; and use a syringe to measure liquid medication.

Simple steps from Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. But important nonetheless: a study last year found that more than 80 percent of parents -- out of 2,110 surveyed -- made a mistake when measuring the dose.

Putting a child in a car seat and giving medicine are two everyday tasks that parents need to make sure they are doing correctly.

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