One of the most important responsibilities as a parent is to keep your child safe while riding in a vehicle. Each year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car seats helps keep children safe. But with so many different seats on the market, many parents find this overwhelming.
If you are expectant parents, give yourself enough time to learn how to properly install the car seat in your car before your baby is born to ensure a safe ride home from the hospital. Here is a helpful chart to help you learn the different types of seats and their specific guidelines.
Here are a few helpful tips to help you make sure that you are keeping your child the safest they can be while in the car.
- Check your car seat’s expiration date. All car seats have expiration dates somewhere on them, usually on the manufacturer’s label. Car seats expire after six years. The plastic becomes brittle and can break easily. Do not use a car seat past its expiration date, as the plastic may no longer be strong enough to support your child safely.
- Read the instruction booklet that comes with your car seat. Check to be sure the seat is the correct size for your child’s age and weight and that you are using the seat correctly.
- Decide where the car seat should be installed. The safest place in the vehicle is the rear center seat. Never put a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag.
- Use either the lower anchors (LATCH system) or locking seat belts as per the manufacturer’s instructions, but never both at the same time. Belts switch to locking mode by pulling the belt all the way out, or you can put a locking plate less than one inch from the latch plate. Check that the installment goes through the correct belt paths and that it is so secure that you can’t move the seat any more than one inch. Even secure seats will fly forward up to 32 inches in a crash. Use your forward-facing car seat top tether straps to reduce the forward movement of the car seat. Improperly secured seats can cause serious internal damage to your child as they will hit whatever is in front of them.
- Check to see that the belts are not twisted. They lose 10 percent of their effectiveness for each twist.
- Ensure the straps are positioned on the child correctly. Are the seat harness straps in the slot at or below the infant’s should (rear-facing) and at or above the toddler’s shoulder (forward-facing) in the reinforced slot? The child can fly out of the seat in an accident if the straps are in the wrong place.
- When you buckle your child in, check the harness straps. They should be snug (not tight, but snug). No more than one adult finger should fit under the harness. If they are loose, a child can fly out of the seat.
- Check the harness retainer clip. It should be at armpit level to hold harness straps over the shoulders. If it is too low, the child can fly out of the seat in an accident.
- Check the car seat handle. It should be down whenever the seat is strapped in the car. Head trauma can be caused by hitting the handle.
- Take care of yourself. Do you buckle up every time you get in the car to go somewhere? Everyone in the car should model “buckling up”. Make it a rule that the car does not go until all the buckles are snapped.
We are so excited to begin offering our new Car Seat Safety Class monthly! During this one hour course you will be given all the information you’ll need to make sure that your child is safe. At the end of the course you will receive a brand new convertible car seat! We feel honored that we are able to offer this to our community and hope you will take advantage of it if you have a need. Click here to be sent to the link to register for the class. Only 5 spots are open each month, so don’t wait too long!