Vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for children between the ages 1 and 4. Your child’s best chance to come out of an accident unscathed is if they are in a car seat that has been installed correctly.
Here are the top car seat safety mistakes.
Price isn’t Everything, Especially when it comes to safety. When it comes to purchasing car seats, the more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean “safer”. There are car seats for every budget. A lot of that extra cost could just be additional features, easy to use, or brand popularity. Find compare and rate car seats using the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) car seat finder here. So what’s the determining factor on which seat to get? Get the one that has the best rating that fits your budget, vehicle, can be properly installed and used.
Your Child is Too Big for the Seat. You bring your new bundle of joy home in the infant seat, they grow quickly, when do you move up to the next size. Sometimes it might be easy to judge if they outgrow the seat. When they pass the height or weight limits you will need to change seats to accommodate these new changes. You can check the manufacturer’s site for specifics on whether your car seat is still a good fit. Or follow this guide.
Moving to a forward-facing or booster seat too soon. The AAP policy says it’s best to keep kids rear-facing until they turn 2 or meet the maximum height and weight for the seat. Studies say that children under 2 are less likely to be severely injured (or worse) if they are riding rear-facing. Newer car seats are equipped with higher height and weight limits to help encourage rear-facing. But, just because the child meets the minimum weight requirement for a booster seat does not mean they are ready to move up. It comes down to if they can sit correctly in the seat and maintain proper belt positions at all times.
More is not merrier in this case. Do not use both LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) and the safety belt, use the incorrect LATCH anchors, or use a LATCH past its weight limit. What you need to use will depend on your car and the type of seat. One or the other may be the best option, but you shouldn’t need to use both. Double-check your car seat manual to make sure you’re using the correct anchors. You should also note that the lower anchors have weight limits, so you have to switch to vehicle seat belt installation if/when the weight your child + car seat exceeds 65lbs.
Used Seat = Better Deal. Expiration dates, prior accidents, cleanliness- there are all sorts of reasons why to purchase a new seat instead of buying a used one. If you are tight on money, research and see which local organizations offer inexpensive options. You’re carrying precious cargo remember, don’t skip the small stuff!
Taking kids out of car seats too soon. When does a child get to ride like a normal passenger? Great question! When the child can sit all the way back with knees bent over the edge of the seat with their seatbelt properly across the shoulder and the thighs. They need to be able to maintain this position throughout the ride, even if asleep. Check your state requirements, most require the use of a booster through age 8 or 9 (or once they hit a certain height or weight requirement).
Incorrect use of the chest clip. Don’t brush this piece off. It’s actually a crucial feature to the seat, that could end up saving your child’s life. The clip holds the straps so that if an accident happens, the straps will remain secure on the child’s shoulders, allowing full protection from the seat. A clip in the wrong spot could result in ejection, internal injuries, or even death.
Straps need to be snug. One rule to remember: if you can pinch excess strap between your fingers, or if the straps are twisted or gaping, they are too loose. The child’s clothes should never be buckled in while wearing them. You may think it adds “padding” but in an accident, it will compress and leave space that could cause injury.
Wrong harness slot. The manual for the car seat will be specific to your exact seat, but usually, placement depends on the direction the seat is facing. Rear-facing: straps should thread into harness slot at or below the shoulders. Forward-facing: straps should thread into harness slot at or above the shoulders.
It’s ONLY a car seat. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children. Car seats save lives.
Take the time to properly install your car seat before use and have it inspected by a certified technician for assurance.
Again, your child is precious cargo, take precautionary measures now before you could regret it later.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.