Car Seat Safety BasicsBy Child Safety Specialist 8/30/2010 | 11:34:50 amPosted in: Child Safety
As moms, it seems as if we spend half our life in the car driving kids to activities or doing errands. I don’t know about you, but I worry more about car accidents on long drives and not necessarily on those everyday quick trips around town. But, statistically, that’s when the majority of car accidents occur.
Having your child’s car seat installed properly is important in keeping them safe in the event of an accident. But, believe it or not, over 75% of car seats are either installed or used improperly. Here are some tips to make sure your car seat is as safe as possible:
Get the 411 on your seat. Every car seat has different specifications and it’s important that, before you buy one, you not only know how it fits into your car but that it has the features and benefits to keep your child safe and comfortable. Statistically, one in four crashes involving children are side impact collisions and are the deadliest for them, accounting for one in three child fatalities. While many car seats are now manufactured to protect against side-impact collision, not all of them do, so it’s important to check. You also want to look for a seat that uses a 5-point harness system which is much safer than one with a 3-point. Also consider the comfort of your child. There are several that will recline and offer additional padding on the side to support their head when they doze off.
A proper fit is everything! It always amazes me when I hear from maternity nurses how many dads show up at the hospital to pick up their newborn and don’t have the car seat installed. Come on dads, you have at least two days to figure this out before mom comes home from the hospital! Review the instructions that come with the car seat but also the owner’s manual on your car to be sure it’s installed properly. An infant should be rear facing for up to 20 lbs. and 1 year of age although many car seat safety experts advise even longer than one year. The safest place to position the seat is in the middle of the back seat. As your child gets older, check the weight restrictions on your car seat to be sure that it is still appropriate. Never use a hand-me-down car seat or one purchased at a tag sale as it could have been recalled or involved in a car accident that has compromised the safety in some way.
When you strap your child in be sure that the middle buckle is even with their armpits. The strap should be snug enough that you can only get one small pinky finger between the strap and the top of your child’s shoulder. Also, in the winter, dress your child in a fleece jacket rather than a heavy snow suit when she’s buckled in her car seat as this will prevent the straps from fitting properly.
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