Background Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and serious injury for children over 1 year of age. A safety restraint can save a child's life when it is used correctly. Of the 254 Galveston County resident child death cases reviewed by the Galveston County Child Fatality Review Team in the past 7 years, 25 victims were occupants of motor vehicles involved in crashes and only 5 victims were documented as restrained by seat belts or car seats. While many communities have inspection stations staffed by certified child passenger safety (CPS) technicians, there are currently no inspection stations in Galveston County.
Objectives The objectives of this study were to evaluate parents' perception and knowledge of correct placement of children in car safety seats and to assess the need for further education and inspection services of car safety restraints.
Methods A survey consisting of demographics and questions regarding knowledge and correct placement of child safety restraints was given to parents at UTMB clinics in Galveston and local daycare centers. After the parent completed the survey, they were educated by a certified child passenger safety inspector (author B.M.) on correct car seat placement and given written materials provided by Safe Kids Buckle Up. Six knowledge questions from the survey were scored with one point being given for each correct answer, and the data were analyzed using chi-square analysis.
Results 110 surveys were distributed, completed and analyzed. 95% of parents stated they had car seats for their child < 4 years of age, and 93% stated they always buckle their child in a car seat. On the scored survey questions, the median score was 3 out of a possible score of 6. When questioned on knowledge of correct car seat restraints, 90% chose the correct answer for proper car seat placement for a 2 month old. However, when asked up to what age a child should be in a car seat, only 41% chose the correct answer, and only 33% correctly answered when it was safe to place a child in a regular seat belt.
Conclusions The majority of parents who took the survey used a car safety seat and stated they knew the importance of consistently placing their child in a safety seat. While there was a tendency for parental age to be associated with knowledge of car safety seats, neither level of education nor having previous children correlated with parental knowledge of car safety seats. Overall, parents in Galveston County need more information on correct car safety seat placement in the form of anticipatory guidance from health care providers, educational brochures and most importantly access to car seat inspection stations.
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