Car seat safety

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on October 19, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

Ten-year-old Austin Johnson is lucky to be alive. A trip with his mom to his great grandparents' house was cut short.

"I saw the 18-wheeler coming," said Austin.

The Johnsons' car was crushed.

"My leg was just pounding. And it felt like it was about to explode

Austin was fortunate. But too many children are not. Pediatrician and injury expert Dr. Beth Ebel sees young accident victims at Seattle Children's Hospital and Harborview Medical Center.

"A lot of what I see is tragic. And it was preventable. And it's preventable by wonderful people who do love their children," she said.

Seattle children's has just released an educational video on YouTube. It's a step-by-step demo for new parents.

"This is a way to really provide a message to folks that's accessible to them in the home, and it also has the ability to show you, really show you how car seats look and how they work," said Dr. Ebel. The very latest research has found babies are safer if they stay rear facing until age 2.

And though Washington state law requires kids to be in booster seats until age eight, Dr. Ebel says don't be tempted to toss this out so soon. Without it, your child is at risk.

"They tend to scooch forward in the seat and that drives the lap belt up over a child's soft abdomen," said Dr. Ebel. "In a crash, that seat belt then would press back all the way to the spine."

To protect against devastating injuries, children need booster seats until they're at least 4-feet-9 inches tall.

Dr Ebel says a common mistake is to overlook using a car seat on a short ride. That can be life threatening for a child.

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