Break Point!

Volume 4, Issue 2 View the Archives February, 2001
Breakpoint's Booster Seat and Burn Awareness Issue
Buckle up your Valentine
Don't Skip a Step-When Your Child Outgrows Their Car Seat
What Belt-Positioning Booster is Best?
Kitchen Safety - Keep Cool Around Hot Foods
Surf's Up- A guide To Internet Sites On The Web
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Breakpoint's Booster Seat and Burn Awareness Issue

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

More children are riding in safety seats than ever before. Unfortunately, the misuse rate of child safety seats remains high. Many parents are also forgetting a step- from car seat, to booster seat, then to seat belt alone. Many parents have been securing their children with safety belt only way before the child is ready. This is partly due to the vague statement in the law. The common belief is that once a child reaches 4 years of age they can move from a safety seat to a seat belt. The safest way to judge whether your child is ready for a booster is by the weight of the child and the height and for some children even their maturity level. This month Child Passenger Safety Week (February 11-17) is observed. Breakpoint will provide articles to help parents clarify the booster seat issue.

February also is a time when attention is brought to burn prevention. National Burn Prevention Week, (February11-17). Burns are not only painful but can be debilitating. Burns are also preventable! Many burns occur in the kitchen and involve children and the elderly. Break Point will provide tips to prevent scald injuries and effective ways to keep your home safer.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy O'Day with any comments or questions.

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Buckle up your Valentine

In spite of the documented effectiveness of safety seats, many families still do not use them. More than 60 percent of the children aged 0-5 years old who were killed in car crashes in 1998 were not in safety seats. Although there are child safety seat laws in every state and the District of Columbia, many "loopholes" exist in these laws.

Misuse of safety seats and booster seats is also a problem. In 1996, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), published the first national study on the types of misuse of child safety seats, showing that about 80 percent of seats are used incorrectly. Additional gains in safety for young children can be made by reducing the most dangerous types of safety seat misuse.

Here are some guidelines to help keep your child safe while in the car:

  • All children under 12 should ride in the back seat.
  • Infants should ride in a rear-facing child safety seat until 20 pounds and at least one year of age. Never put a child in a rear-facing or convertible safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active air bag.
  • Children over one year and between 20–40 pounds can be in a forward facing car seat with the harness straps in the upper slots.
  • Children between 40-80 pounds should ride in a belt positioning booster seat. The safety belt should rest across the shoulder and on the upper thighs. Safety belts made for an adult do not fit children less than 80 pounds and could cause more trauma in a crash.
  • Read your car seat instruction manual for proper installation in your vehicle. You should also refer to the owner’s manual of your car for any additional information on proper fit of a car seat.
  • Find a car seat fitting station near your home. A certified child passenger safety technicians are available to check the car seat or booster seat for recall information and can teach parents or caregivers proper safety seat installation. Information on area fitting stations can be obtained at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration web site

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Don't Skip a Step-When Your Child Outgrows Their Car Seat

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children 5 to 14 years of age. A fact that can be linked, at least in part, to the reality that most kids are unbuckled or improperly restrained in vehicles.

When children out grow a forward-facing child safety seat, they need to be restrained in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are big enough to fit properly in an adult seat belt.

When a small child uses a safety belt designed for an adult, the safety belt rides too high on the stomach and cuts across the neck. In a crash, the safety belt could cause serious or fatal injuries. This is called “seat belt syndrome”

The usage rate for booster seats by children who have outgrown their convertible safety seats but who do not yet fit adult belts is very low. In fact, a recent NHTSA survey indicated that more than 20 percent of parents of young children have not even heard of booster seats. Among parents who have heard of booster seats, nearly one-third report concerns about their safety.

Here are some guidelines to help determine when a child should move from a safety seat to a belt positioning booster seat or a seat belt alone.

  • The child has outgrown a convertible child safety seat. (when they reach 40 pounds or 40 inches in height.
  • A child who weighs between 40-80 pounds, or a child who is between the ages of 4-8 years and at least 35 inches tall. Should be restrained in a belt positioning booster seat.
  • A child who can’t sit with their back against the vehicle seat back cushion or who can’t sit with their knees over the vehicle seat edge without slouching. A belt- positioning booster is recommended.
  • It is always safest to keep your child in a forward-facing child safety seat with a full harness as long as the child fits the seat. Some seat manufacturers are increasing the maximum weight of the harness. Be sure to read the instruction manual for the seat for height and weight specifications.
  • If your child is under 4 years old but is too tall for a child safety seat, it would be safer to purchase a seat with a higher backrest. Most children under 4 years of age lack the maturity to stay in a belt- positioning booster.

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What Belt-Positioning Booster is Best?

Although no one can say with certainty which booster seat is best, one fact remains true; the safest booster seat is the one that fits your child, one that fits your car and one that you will use each time you drive.

There are several types of belt-positioning booster seats on the market. They all should meet the National Highway Traffic Administration Federal Standard FMVSS 213.

The types of booster seats on the market are:

  • Belt-Positioning Booster- The child sits in the booster seat and uses the vehicle lap and shoulder belt for restraint. Lap and shoulder belts together offer the best protection, better than lap belts only. This type of booster seat is available in a high back or backless models.
  • High back booster with a 5 point harness- When the harness is attached the seat can be used for children 20-40 pounds and uses the lap portion of the belt to install into the vehicle. At 40 pounds, the harness is removed and the seat converts to a belt-positioning booster seat using the vehicle lap and shoulder belt for restraint.
  • Shield booster- Used with the shield, the booster seat is used for children between 30-40 pounds using a lap only belt around the shield. This type of restraint is not recommended. However, studies have shown that children are safest in a child safety seat with a harness until at least 40 pounds. The shield booster may not adequately restrain the upper portion of the body. In a crash the child could suffer serious injuries.
  • Shield booster with the shield removed- the shield booster becomes a backless booster seat when the shield is removed. This type of booster seat meets federal standards and can be used in vehicles with higher back seats. The child is restrained by the lap and shoulder belt. The backless booster should never be used with a lap only seat belt.

Always read the instruction manual that came with the seat before installing a belt-positioning booster seat into your vehicle. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for further instructions on installation of a booster seat.

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Kitchen Safety - Keep Cool Around Hot Foods

Whether minor or serious, burns are painful. So we teach our kids not to play with matches and tell them not to touch the stove. But burns don't come only from open flames and hot objects. Liquids -- such as coffee, tea, soup and even a hot bath -- can scald, causing serious burns. According to the Burn Prevention Foundation, scalds are the number one cause of burn injury to children under age 4.

Many scalding injuries could be prevented with a little foresight. Take these precautions to make your home safer.

In the Kitchen

  • Never leave cooking unattended. Cook on the stove's rear burner whenever possible and turn pot handles toward the rear of the stove, out of the reach of young hands.
  • Keep young children out of the kitchen when you’re handling hot liquids. If possible, occupy toddlers in a playpen or a high chair, where they can be easily supervised and restrained.
  • Don't drink hot liquids while holding your child. Children move fast and can easily bump your cup or bowl, spilling burning liquid onto them or you.
  • Keep the cords short on appliances such as electric teapots and deep-fat fryers; long cords can be tripped over or pulled.
  • Don't use a tablecloth around young children, who may pull on it and bring hot food down on themselves.
  • Don't let the microwave mislead you. It may not get hot to the touch, but the foods and liquids we cook in it can cause serious burns. So when you use your microwave, remember to:
  • Follow the printed instructions when microwaving packaged foods. If the instructions say to not microwave the food, take the extra few minutes to warm it conventionally.
  • Remove the lid carefully when taking a dish out of the microwave. The steam that has built up inside the dish can cause a scald burn.
  • Don't let children use the microwave until they’re old enough to follow directions and handle hot foods carefully. Even then, it’s best to supervise them.
  • Stir and test food before serving it to eliminate the "hot spots" often caused by microwaved foods. This is especially important with baby food. Don't use the microwave to warm a baby's bottle. The hot spots could scald the baby’s mouth.

In the Bathroom

Your hot water heater should be turned down as low as possible – it should never be above 120 degrees F. (If you have a dishwasher, consult the operators manual for the lowest effective water temperature setting.

Water at 133 degrees F can cause third-degree burns in just 15 seconds. Test the water. Never put a baby or child in a bathtub before testing the water yourself. Test the water with your elbow or the back of your wrist -- not your hand, which isn't as sensitive. Water temperature should be 100 degrees F or lower.

Never leave children unattended in the bath. Aside from the danger of drowning, your child could receive a life-threatening scald in just a few seconds if he or she should turn on the hot water. If a scald burn occurs, examine it to see what type of burn it is. Your child may need to see a doctor immediately: Check the burn to see if the skin is intact and whether the burned area hurts when touched.

The most serious burns are deeper ones with loss of skin and sensation. Seek emergency treatment if you notice discoloration under extensive areas of peeling skin.

A first-degree burn leaves skin red and slightly swollen. Second- and third-degree burns leave skin blistered and charred. These types of burns require immediate medical attention. If the burn covers a large part of the body, seek medical attention immediately.


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Surf's Up- A guide To Internet Sites On The Web

Cool the Burn-A Site for Children Touched by a Burn

This web site is not only for children who have been burned; it is for any child interested in burn prevention. There are burn safety games, prevention tips and stories. Children who have been burned can also chat on line with other children who have been burned and provide their own safety message to other children.

(Children should have the permission and the supervision of their parents when chatting on line)


Berks County Kids Safety House

This site has fun activity pages that make fire and burn prevention fun for children. The Koolas Arcade teaches children to look for hazards around the home and children can print the pages out to color. Parents can help discuss the hazards with their children. There is also a parent’s page that increases awareness of the importance of fire safety throughout the home.

AZ Family

The members of AZ Family brought together some of the most helpful information on child-automotive safety they could find. You can learn about air bag safety, what to look for when purchasing a car, the correct way to install a car seat and more.


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Click on injury prevention and then go to child passenger safety. There are interesting articles that pertain to child passenger safety and “A Parent’s Guide to Booster Seats”. This guide takes the guesswork out of choosing the best booster seat for your child and answers many questions parents have regarding installation and proper belt position for their children.

*It is important to note that children who have access to the Internet should get permission from their parents first. Parents should observe their children while they use the Internet to help them avoid dangerous situations while they surf.

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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • National Poison Prevention Week (March 18-24)

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