Car seats are important for child safety while driving in the car. However, parents and caregivers are increasingly using car seats for purposes other than intended. Over the past 10 years, 350 deaths occurred while a child was restrained in a car seat. In 90% of these cases, the car seat was not being used as directed. According to Jeffrey D. Colvin, M.D., “Car seats are always the best place for babies when they are being transported in a vehicle, that doesn’t mean they are the safest place when they’re sleeping outside of the car.”
Briele was a happy and healthy toddler. When her parents needed child care, a co-worker recommended a provider who had cared for her child for 5 years. The provider seemed nice and told Briele’s parents that she didn’t need a license because she only cared for her two children and three others. They thought everything was good.
Then a nightmare happened. The provider buckled Briele into a car seat and left her unattended in an upstairs bedroom. The provider then left the home to attend an appointment. Upon her return, she found Briele unconscious. The autopsy lists strangulation as the cause of death.
When used for purposes other than intended, car seats pose a safety risk. When a child is restrained in a car seat, they are at risk of heatstroke or strangulation.
Car seat related deaths are preventable. Child Care Aware of Virginia recommends that parents and child care providers follow safe sleep practices and avoid leaving children in car seats for sleep time. Parents should be vigilant and aware of where their children spend the majority of their day while in child care. If your child is in a car seat when you arrive for pick up, chances are they’ve been in there for way too long. Child care providers should follow appropriate adult to child ratios to ensure that they are able to dedicate the time and attention needed to the children in their care.
If you’d like a copy of our Car Safety Packet, contact your local Child Care Aware of Virginia office.
How Can You Help?
- Spread the Word
Example social media posts:
Car seats are for car safety. When the car is off, the child comes out. #CarSeatsAreNotBabysitters
Car seats are only safe for travel. When used for other purposes, children are at risk! #CarSeatsAreNotBabysitters
The safest sleep for infants is flat on their back in a crib. #CarSeatsAreForTravel #SafeSleep Infants should sleep flat on their backs in a crib