Car Seat Safety – Part 1

Car Seat Safety – Part 1Your baby’s safety is your biggest priority, yet some parents are unknowingly making a bunch of mistakes when it comes to car seat safety. In fact, it is estimated that 70% of parents are making some type of mistake with their car seats. Just by putting your baby in a child safety seat doesn’t mean it is installed correctly or that you are using it properly. This week we’re reviewing car seat safety guidelines to help ensure your baby is super safe on the road.

Car Seat Installation

Read the Directions: It is essential to read the manual and follow the instructions on your car seat before installing it. Installation varies per manufacturer and car seat models. Their instructions will show the safest way to install the particular car seat at hand, which may differ from other car seats.

Get it Tight: Car seats should be installed to ensure very little seat movement. If the seat can move in any direction more than an inch, it is not tight enough.

Only Use Recommended Anchors: Some car seats should not be latched in the center rear seat if the proper anchors are not available. Also, it may be unnecessary to use latch anchors and a seat belt to secure the seat. Too much stress on the car seat may make it less effective.

Angle the Car Seat Correctly: The angle at which the car seat sits in your car is important to ensure your baby is not thrown from the seat. Don’t recline your baby more than 45 degrees from vertical. Many car seats have a gage to help you position the seat at a safe angle.

Always Use the Top Tether: The top tether is designed to reduce head and neck movement in the event of a crash. The top tether is usually recommended by manufacturers with both seat belt and anchor installations.

Have an Expert Check Your Car Seat: Most cities offer free car seat safety inspection services through fire departments or other government agencies. Have an expert check to ensure your car seats are installed properly.

Strapping In Safely

Ensure a Snug Ride: Your baby should be strapped in snugly for the safest ride. Pull the straps until they are firm against your baby’s body without being uncomfortable, cutting into skin or becoming a choking hazard.

Position the Chest Clips Properly:  The chest clip restraint should sit high on your baby’s chest but below her chin. This is to ensure she doesn’t come out of the car seat in the event of impact.

Avoid Bulky Coats and Clothing: Extra padding under the car seat straps can make them less effective. Remove coats before strapping in your baby. If you’re worried she will be cold, tuck her into a blanket once the straps are secured.

Tomorrow we’ll be back with more car seat safety reminders about best practices for your baby’s safest ride.

Sources: AAA’s Safe Seats 4 Kids, Parents and Autobytel

Car Seats and Safety Rules for Parents to Follow

Car Seats and Safety Rules for Parents to Follow

From car seats to booster seats, parents have many safe options for child protection while traveling in the car. Recently the Center for Disease Control reported that between 2002 to 2011 motor vehicle fatalities in U.S. children dropped 43%. Mostly this figure is attributed to better seat belt and car seat use by parents, which is an encouraging sign. Do you know that proper time line for transitioning your child from a car seat to a booster? If you’re unsure about the correct safety precautions, take a look at this time line adapted from CDC guidelines:

Birth to age 2

Use only a rear-facing car seat during this time period. Your child might be ready for a front-facing car seat before turning 2 if he or she exceeds the upper height or weight limits. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual if you think your child is too large for a rear-facing car seat.

Ages 2 to 5

Switch from a rear-facing car seat to a forward facing car seat. As always, make sure to securely buckle in the seat for each trip. Again, your child might grow out of the forward-facing seat before his or her fifth birthday, so ask your pediatrician or reference your owner’s manual so you know when you are approaching the height and weight limits.

Ages 5 to 12

Around age 5, your child will be ready to sit in a booster seat while riding in the car. Your child should always sit in the back seat and never up front in the passenger seat. Always use a seat belt that’s fastened while your child is in the booster seat. You will know when your child is ready for just a seat belt when the lap belt lays flat across the upper thighs and the shoulder strap crosses the chest. If your child’s lap belt is across the stomach and the shoulder strap falls across the neck, then your child is still too small for just a seat belt.

Children younger than 12 should not sit in the front seat, regardless of size. Also, it is vital that your child wears a seat belt or is in the proper car seat for every trip in the car, no matter how brief. Safety comes first when riding in the car, so make sure you are well-versed in car seat fit and safety before starting your trip.