Crime Watch

Crime Watch: Child safety seats are a must for young kids


Special to The Miami Herald

As I drove to Tampa for a workshop recently, and as I travelled Alligator Alley and I-75, I was flabbergasted by how many children were not buckled or in restrain seats.

Even worse was the lack of seatbelt usage by so many adults who had kids in the car. Yes, and those adults who were not belted, their kids were not restrained either.

Florida now has a mandatory seatbelt law and most definitely has child-restraint laws. But the law aside, how can you not protect yourself and your child? It’s a proven fact that seatbelts and child safety seats save lives.

So today once again I am going to give you the new car-seat recommendations for children, because if you read this column there is no excuse after today, not to have your child restrained.

These recommendations come from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:

•  Birth to 12 months – Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time. A rear-facing car seat is the best seat for your young child to use. It has a harness and in a crash, cradles and moves with your child to reduce the stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord.

•  1 to 3 years – Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness. The harness and tether limit your child’s forward movement during a crash.

• 4 to 7 years – Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat , it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

•  8 to 12 years – Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, NOT the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and NOT cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there. A booster seat positions the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body.

Again, let me say that all children under the age of 12 need to be in the back seat and properly restrained. And you as the parent need to set the example by wearing your own seatbelt.

Hope this helps, and that it motivates you to doing the right thing for your child.

For more information, visit

Well we are almost ready for our Crime Watch Awards Ceremony on Friday, Oct. 4 at the Doubletree Miami Mart/Airport Hotel. Feel free to contact our office if you would like to participate.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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