I buckle my child into her car seat several times a day. And for a long time, I was making common mistakes that could have caused her to be injured unnecessarily if we had been in an accident. She wasn’t as safe as I thought she was. Here are a few ideas for checking the safety of your backseat buddy.
Experts estimate that 80% of car seats are installed incorrectly. Having your car seat installation checked by a certified car seat safety installation technician is an important place to start on the journey to making your child safer in the car. Visit the National Highway Safety Administration’s website and locate a certified technician in your area.
Car seat straps should be snug on the child’s shoulders. If you can pinch the strap up, it is not snug. They should lay flat over the shoulder, across the body, and back over the hip to the seat. If your child’s winter coat is under the straps of the car seat, you will not be able to buckle him or her in snugly. Try taking the coat off, buckling your child in, then putting the coat on backwards over the child and straps. You will not be able to zip the coat, but your child will be warm and safe as you drive.
The chest clip needs to be buckled even with your child’s armpits. If it is resting on his or her belly, it is not functioning as a chest clip is intended and could result in your child being ejected out of the car seat.
Check your car seat’s expiration date. As plastic ages, it becomes brittle. An old car seat may break in a crash.
Children should be rear facing until at least age two. Each car seat model has a different maximum rear facing limit. Keep your child rear facing for as long as possible to reduce your child’s chance of a spinal cord injury in the event of a crash.
Taking a few minutes today to check your child’s safety won’t cost you anything, and you’ll be glad you did. Are there any tips I missed? Leave a comment below!