Sioux Falls Mom Promoting Car Seat Safety After Crash

When Is It Safe To Turn Children Forward Facing In Cars?

A Sioux Falls mom is taking to social media after her children were involved in a bad car crash earlier this week. She’s hoping some good could come of the accident by raising awareness about car seat safety.

Police say on Monday a 54-year-old man driving a Chevy Tahoe was traveling south on Grange Avenue. They say he ran a red light and T-boned a Chevy Town & Country van headed west on 33rd Street, which then crashed into another vehicle. The van was driven by a 26-year-old man, who had his 3-year-old boy and 19-month-old girl in the vehicle. According to the family, the impact caused the door to fold on the boy and forced his head back into the car seat, fracturing his skull. Three days later, he’s still in the hospital.

In a Facebook post, the mother of the children says her little girl was saved because her car seat was rear facing. It said when her boy gets out of the hospital, she will be changing his back as well.

Sanford Health Family Life Educator Susan Illg said, “Their car seat is going to kind of roll up with them so their head, their neck, their back, everything is going to be supported when a child is rear facing.”

Illig says knowing when it’s time to to face your child forward in the car is as simple as reading a label.

“You want to keep your child rear facing as long as possible, at least two years,” said Illg.

She says they should stay rear facing until they meet the maximum height or weight requirements.

Illg said pointing at the demonstration seat, “This one goes rear facing up to 40 pounds.”

If you have a bench, she says putting them in the middle is best. The seat also needs to be level with the ground.

“That means it’s a 45 degree angle,” said Illg. “When a child is coming forward like this, their breathing becomes compromised and that’s what we don’t like to see.”

Along with Sanford Child Services, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue has professionals who can help. Capt. Grant Van Riesen says he still sees many that aren’t done correctly.

“If the parent is installing the car seat and they don’t have this switched over to lock, the car seat will be able to fly throughout the vehicle,” said Van Riesen. “If you pull it out then you hear that ratchet.”

Van Riesen says the seat should only move an inch. Buckles need to fit snug and pass the pinch test. Children should also wear a harness as long as possible.

“If they’re rear facing they should be at or below the shoulders and if they’re forward facing, at or above the shoulders,” Van Riesen said.

It’s also important to remember that car seats expire. They usually have a 5 to 10 year shelf life. If your seat is in an accident, you should contact the manufacturer to make sure it’s still safe to use.

Van Riesen says after installing seats, they’ve had living proof that these little things can make a big difference.

“She just happened to roll her pickup on I-90 that following week and all her kids were in the vehicle and they were just still totally fine and untouched,” said Van Riesen.

If you have question about car seat safety or need help installing one, you can contact Sanford or Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.

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