Parents: Now here’s something to be paranoid about!

It’s not my intention to give readers anything more to worry about. If you love your kids, you worry. Period.

But most parents worry about the wrong things.

Christie Barnes, who wrote The Paranoid Parents Guide, found a true disconnect between what parents fear will harm their children (kidnapping, school snipers, terrorists) and the leading causes of death and injury to kids (car and bicycle accidents, drowning, abuse by a family member).

Barnes has it exactly right. We obsess over the freak accidents that, well, are just not likely to happen. But we overlook the stuff that really does matter- bike helmets, booster seats- things that really can reduce the risk.

As Lisa Belkin of the New York Times writes in her Motherlode blog, it’s not that parents choose caution when the risks for injury or harm are unknown, but rather that parents become obsessively cautious when the risks are known to be microscopically small.

But for a known risk to children- car accidents – many parents completely miss the boat and overlook something so simple that could save their child’s life.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that we are getting better at strapping in kids under the age of one year. Eighty-five percent of babies and kids under one year old who were involved in a motor vehicle crash were safely strapped into a car seat.

But for kids ages 4-7 , only 24 percent were even sitting in car seats. Not even half of these kids were wearing seat beats, but even if they were…seat belts alone just aren’t made to protect young bodies in a crash.

Since vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S., it’s important that all parents secure their young children in an appropriate child safety seat.

This week is  National Child Passenger Safety Week . Take a moment to reduce a known risk to children- and make sure your child — especially your four to seven year-old — is in a properly fitting booster seat whenever he or she rides in a car, truck, or mini-van.

Check out the Consumer Reports car seat guide to find out how to best fit your child with a safety seat as they grow.

Local sources for car seat safety checks:

Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Phoenix Fire Department Car Seat Safety Stations

Scottsdale Fire Department Car Seat Safety Stations

Glendale Fire Department Car Seat Safety Stations


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