We Have A Little Emergency – W.H.A.L.E. CHECK Child Passenger Safety Program
Now is the time to educate new parents and caregivers about Florida’s Child Passenger Safety (CPS) laws and guidelines. The W.H.A.L.E. Check program is an excellent resource with important child passenger information and recommendations.
The number of U.S. births rose in 2021. The modest 1% gain is more like a baby bump than a baby boom. However, according to new Census Bureau data, Florida’s population also grew by 1.9% from July 2021 to July 2022 – the most significant increase of any US state. Since 2016, some District Two counties have seen even higher growth. St. Johns County has grown by 24% and Nassau County by 16.5% over the last six years. With this baby and population increase in Northeast Florida, there is a need to strengthen child passenger safety education and outreach.
The W.H.A.L.E. Check program was first introduced in May of 2002 in Jacksonville, Florida, by Northeast FDOT District Two’s CTSP. This is a child passenger safety education and identification program for parents and caregivers in Florida. In the event of an automobile crash, children are often too young to identify themselves or provide helpful information.
Parents and guardians are encouraged to complete the sticker and place it on the back of the child’s car seat to provide vital contact information to emergency personnel. We suggest users stick the two smaller labels on each side of the car seat. These alert rescuers that the occupant is participating in W.H.A.L.E. Check.
Our popular and nationally recognized W.H.A.L.E. Check campaign remains highly requested and distributed material with important child occupant protection education and information. Almost 300,000 printed W.H.A.L.E. Checks have been distributed in Northeast Florida since being launched. Over 1,656 digital versions have been viewed or downloaded from this website. The site has received over 10,000 social media W.H.A.L.E. Check impressions just in the last several years. Watch the video above to learn more about how the program works.
Free Resources: Printable Flyer and Social Media Graphic
Available statewide as a digital download courtesy of FDOT District Two: Click here to download the W.H.A.L.E. Check as a one-page, printable PDF flyer. This can be distributed at car seat checks, traffic safety events, daycare centers, pediatrician offices, government agencies, and hospitals.
Click here to download this CPS social media image to help promote the W.H.A.L.E. Check program. Don’t forget to tag us!
@trafficsafetyteam on Facebook and Instagram
@trafficsafetyfl on Twitter and Pinterest
District Two Community Traffic Safety Teams may click here to order printed W.H.A.L.E. Check flyers online now.
The W.H.A.L.E. Check informational flyer also includes child safety seat advice and guidelines. Here are five safety tips to help prevent injuries in case of a car crash:
- WEAR YOUR SAFETY BELT: Studies show that if you wear your seat belt, your kids will too.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions: Always check the manual for both your
car and the child safety seat for proper installation guidelines.
- Seat strapped in tight: You should not be able to move the car seat more than one inch
in any direction at the belt path, and always use the top tether when forward facing.
- Chest clip at armpit level & harness snug: Straps should be tight enough
so that you cannot pinch the fabric of the harness at the shoulders.
- Back seat is safest: Children age 13 and under should ride in the back seat.
Older children no longer need a special seat if their legs bend comfortably at the
seat’s edge with their back resting flat against the back of the seat.
We follow these American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and want all children safeguarded in the right car seat:
- Birth – 12 Months: Babies under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
- 1 – 3 Years: Toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat with a harness as long as possible – until they reach the top height or weight limit of the seat, typically around 35 to 45 pounds.
- 4 – 7 Years: Young children should ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the top height or weight limit of the seat – typically between 40 and 60 pounds.
- 8 – 12 Years: Children should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lies snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt lies snug across the shoulder and chest, not over the neck or face.
Child passenger safety has dramatically evolved over the past decade; however, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children 4 years and older. This policy statement provides 4 evidence-based recommendations for best practices in the choice of a child restraint system to optimize safety in passenger vehicles for children from birth through adolescence: (1) rear-facing car safety seats as long as possible; (2) forward-facing car safety seats from the time they outgrow rear-facing seats for most children through at least 4 years of age; (3) belt-positioning booster seats from the time they outgrow forward-facing seats for most children through at least 8 years of age; and (4) lap and shoulder seat belts for all who have outgrown booster seats. In addition, a fifth evidence-based recommendation is for all children younger than 13 years to ride in the rear seats of vehicles. It is important to note that every transition is associated with some decrease in protection; therefore, parents should be encouraged to delay these transitions for as long as possible.From the American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Passenger Safety Technical Report