Posted on May 11, 2014

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is reminding parents that child passengers, who are not restrained with proper car seats in vehicles, are at a high risk of serious and fatal injuries from car accidents.

As part of its Kulluna child health and safety campaign, HMC is raising awareness of the issue as “many countries including Qatar, do not have legislation mandating the use of car safety seats,” according to Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, Chairman of the Kulluna Health and Safety Campaign and also the Director of Hamad International Training Center (HITC).

“Kulluna has been working to address safety issues regarding children and has developed Safe Kids Qatar in partnership with Safe Kids Worldwide, a US-based international non-government organization specializing in child safety, and ConocoPhillips Qatar, the founding sponsor of Kulluna,” he said. Ordinary car seats and restraints are designed for adults and children over the age of 12, depending on their size, Dr. Saifeldeen continued.

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“Younger children require specific car seats because they are different in terms of size, and standard car seats do not protect them in the best possible way. In fact, an ordinary car seat belt can be dangerous because it can become caught on the neck of a child or even cause internal damage,” he emphasized, adding that car safety seats are designed based on evidence and research.

“Safe Kids Qatar has trained over 40 child passenger safety technicians within the community who educate parents and other members of the public on choosing the right car seat and using it correctly,” he added.

Safe Kids Qatar highlights the following checklist in ensuring that car safety seats are optimized to protect children:

  1. Right seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height. Car seats have an expiration date, so double-check the label on your car seat to make sure it is still safe.
  2. Right place. Keep children in the backseat until they are 13. Children who sit on the front seat of the car are likely to have severe injuries and even die in case of a sudden impact on the car.
  3. Right direction. Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, usually until around age two. This will provide your child the maximum protection for the head, neck and spine. When your child outgrows the seat, move him or her to a forward-facing car seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors.
  4. Inch test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch side to side or front to back.
  5. Pinch test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.

Parents and other members of the community are encouraged to have their child car seats checked free of charge by nationally certified child passenger safety technicians, who can be approached during safety events sponsored by Safe Kids Qatar, or by sending a message through the Kulluna website

Dr. Saifeldeen cautioned parents and other family members never to leave children unattended in enclosed spaces such as cars particularly during the hot season, as the temperature inside a car can rise quickly and cause heatstroke. He encourages all community members to be vigilant about children’s safety. “If you pass by a car and notice a child sitting alone in it, raise an alarm – ask around for the parents, and if there is a need, call the authorities. We all play a part in keeping children safe from danger.”

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