Car-seat safety

Written by on November 15, 2013


Did you know that four out of five seats are improperly handled? The National Safe Kids Campaign reports an average of three mistakes per seat. The fact of the matter is that most parents are improperly using their child’s car seat and unintentionally installing them incorrectly. According to The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children 1 through 12 years old.

Car seat manufactures are consistently creating improvements to ensure your child’s safety while on-the-go. With the new elaborate features and bulkiness of the modern car seat, installation may become a tricky task for even the most precise individual. No matter how high the rating of your child’s seat, improper installation and common mistake can lead to a tragic accident.

Print out this check list as a helpful resource for your car seat safety

1. Loose seat: a common car seat mistake. In the event of an accident, loose seats may easily fly off and hit the seat in front of it causing severe injuries to the head or face. To check your child’s seat, grab onto it at the base and jiggle. If there is movement that is greater than one inch, than your seat is too loose. The best way to adequately tighten the seat is by putting your knee onto the seat and bear your weight down onto it. Tighten the seat as much as you possibly can. For infant seats, use your arm. Keep in mind that cars made prior to 1996 require an additional locking clip.

loose harness

2. Loose harness: the seat is in nice and snug, you think your child is safe, right? Think again, a loose harness can be more detrimental than a loose car seat. Should an accident occur the child may become ejected from the seat or even from the car, resulting in tragedy. Too check for accuracy, tighten the child in a try to pinch on the harness between your fingers. If you are able to do so, the harness is still too loose. There should be no slack and the harness should be snug against the child.

3. Harness straps are in the wrong slots: straps can break through a seat if in the wrong slots during a collision. Many convertible seats include three slots for harness straps: the two lower seats are designed for the rear facing position while the one on the top is created for effective restraints of a forward facing seat. Remember to check slot placement, especially when turning the seat around and always confirm with your car seat manual for information.

imagesCAEPZO3F4. Incorrect retainer clip use: clip placement should be at armpit level across the child’s chest thus holding straps firmly in the correct position. If the clip is placed too low, it can cause the straps to slip off shoulders or injury to the child’s stomach in the event of an accident. Double check placement once child is buckled in.

5. Rear facing seat not at the correct angle: modern car seats often have a feature which tells the parent if the angle of their seat is incorrect. When a car seat is angled too far forward, it may because the infants head to fall forward as well, causing a cutoff of airways. Check the level on the seat to ensure it is positioned at a 45 degree angle.

6. Infant turned forward prematurely: infants and small children should remain rear facing as long as possible and have met the height/weight capacity for their seat. At this time, the infant’s spinal cord is still forming and need the ultimate protection possible. When a seat is turned forward prematurely, an infant’s head can be propelled forward which can lead to paralysis or death. By keeping the seat in rear-facing position, the child can absorb the impact of a crash in his back which is the strongest part of their body at such a young age.

7. Using a recalled seat: let’s face it, items are recalled constantly and unless they are broadcasted on the news, many parents aren’t away which ones they are. Periodically check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a current list of recalled seats. (The NHTSA website will provide you with other useful care seat information, so be sure to bookmark the page.) Some of the reason a car seat recall can be dangerous include flammable fabrics or faulty buckles and latches. Make sure to keep track of your seats model name, number, and manufacture date.

8. Improper use of a booster seat: both a lap and shoulder belt need to be in place with a booster seat. Often times, only a lap belt is applied resulting in serious injury. Without the shoulder belt, the child is at risk for being thrown out of their seat. Children up to 80 pounds and 4’9″ tall should be in a booster seat. Additionally, the result of using NO booster seat is just as dangerous as improper belt use, make sure that your child meets the height and weight requirements before removing the booster seat from the car.

Review the chart below for age recommendations for the different car seat stages.


Click here to find a Car Seat Check-Up Event in your area

Photo Sources-multivu, infographicsonly, treadingragingwaters, dailymomtra


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