Car seat safety is essential but there’s a good chance your child may be one of the three out of four kids not properly secured in a vehicle because their car seats are not correctly installed. This is a big reason why motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for kids ages one through 12 years old.
With Child Passenger Safety Week upon us, we want to emphasis the need to improve those frightening numbers. Sarah Tilton, child passenger safety advocacy manager (aka The Car Seat Whisperer) for our good friends at stroller and car seat manufacturer Britax, offers these important tips:
Select a car seat that fits your baby and your vehicle(s). Also, be sure that you can use it correctly each and every time.
- Be sure your car seat fits your growing child. Seated shoulder height is often overlooked.
- Belt-positioning boosters seats are for bigger kids. Don’t transition out of a 5-point harness prematurely.
- When using LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), be aware that your vehicle’s lower anchors have weigh limits. You must switch to vehicle seat belt installation when the weight of the car seat and the child exceed 65 lbs.
- A snug harness strap should not allow any slack. If you’re able to pinch the strap, the harness is too loose. You should not be able to pinch any excess webbing.
- For children 12 years of age and under, remember — the backseat is always the safest place for them to ride. Be sure to check your child seat and vehicle user guides for available seating positions.
- Britax recommends that the use of a child seat be discontinued if it has been in a moderate to severe crash. Also, never purchase a used car seat if you don’t know its history.
- Car seats have expiration dates. Double check the manufacturer’s tag to be sure your seat is still safe.
- Never leave your child in a vehicle unattended, especially during hot weather.
- Be sure your child’s harness is tight enough, especially in the winter months when children are bundled up in thick layers and bulky outerwear.
- After buying a car seat, be sure to register your product either by visiting the manufacturer’s website, mailing the registration card or by calling their customer service department. That way you can be contacted in the event of a recall.
- Always refer to your child restraint user guide or call your car seat’s customer service about installation and proper use questions you might have.
- If you still feel unsure about your car seat installation, have a certified technician check your installation.