Safe Kids of Northeast Florida is offering free booster seats Saturday by appointment for children 4 and older and weighing between 40 and 80 pounds.
You may be surprised to hear children as old as 12 should still be riding in a booster seat. Parents tend to transition their toddlers from a harness seat straight into a seat belt, and that can have deadly consequences.
"Seat belts are designed for adults not for children 5, 6, 7, 8, even up to 12 years of age. If they're under 4 feet 9 inches, or 57 inches, and under 80 pounds, they need to be in a booster seat," said Leslie Seaton, a certified car seat technician for Safe Kids of Northeast Florida.
Seaton said children who are too young or too small to be strapped into a seat belt are exposed to serious risk of internal organ damage near the waist or can suffer neck and head injuries if involved in a car accident.
"When you put them in just a seat belt alone and rubbing the neck or on the head or they put it behind them, it's not fitting them properly," Seaton said. "It needs to be comfortable and it needs to fit on the shoulder and across the chest naturally."
She demonstrated where the shoulder strap and the lap belt should safely rest on a child. The shoulder strap should lie flat on a child's shoulder and the lap belt should sit on the child's upper thigh.
If you would like a free booster seat, you can call 904-202-4302 to make an appointment to pick one up on Saturday. You are urged to call before the weekend because availability is limited.
Another booster seat giveaway will be held Feb. 22. For more information about car seat safety in general click here.