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Air bags save lives and prevent injuries, but they can also be deadly to young children and infants.  Learn ways to eliminate these risks and keep your family safe. Spokespersons: Dr. Till Jolley, Emergency Room Physician; Brian O’Neil, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Air bags have become standard equipment in most new cars and are supplied to augment the passenger safety provided by seat belts. Federal safety regulations demands that all cars and light trucks be equipped with both driver and passenger air bags. Even though air bags have a positive safeness history, they present  certain risks for children.

Do not place a rear-facing safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger side air bag. With a forward impact, the inflating air bag could hit the safety seat with a force strong enough to injure or even kill the infant. Infants below one year old and around 20 pounds, in a rear-facing safety seat, must be placed in the rear seat of the vehicle. 

Forward-facing safety seats, for toddlers and older children, usually place children closer to the dash than the adult seating position. Therefore, it is safer to locate all child safety seats in the back seat of the vehicle. If it is definitely necessary to set a forward-facing safety seat in the front of a vehicle with a passenger side air bag, adjust the vehicle seat as far back as possible from the dash.

Air bags can be a hazard for children who ride unrestricted or improperly restrained in the front seat.  Children should always be correctly fitted in safety seats or safety belts. sadly, surveys show that nearly 35% of young children travel unrestrained. Pre-crash braking could inflate the air bag and its plastic cover can severely strike the unrestricted child with sufficient force to injure or maybe kill the child. To keep children safe make sure they are correctly restrained in the rear seat of the vehicle.
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