September is National Baby Safety Month, and if you’re a parent, you know that keeping your child safe is your number one priority. As we’re parents too, we’d like to share some tips about how to keep your little one safe in the backseat while you focus on the road.
First, some statistics to reinforce the importance of not only using a car seat, but using it correctly.
• Car crashes are the number one killer of children ages 1 to 12 years old.
• Half of children younger than five-years-old who died in a motor vehicle crash were unrestrained.
• Of those who died while restrained, misuse is reported in 80-95% of cases.
• 75% to 84% of child restraints show critical misuses.
• The most common errors are using the wrong seat for the child’s age and weight, loose safety belt attachment to the car seat, and loose harness straps on the child.
• This is scary because another statistic says 96% of parents believe their child safety seats are installed correctly.
Tips for Proper Car Seat Use
Get the right car seat.
Make sure you’re using the right car seat for your child’s age, weight, and height. Read your car seat’s instructions for size limits.
Register your seat right away.
This is so the manufacturer can notify you in the event of a safety recall. Mail in the registration card that came with the seat, or go to www.safercar.gov/parents/Car-Seat-Recalls-Registration.htm.
Read the instructions.
The instructions for both your vehicle and the car seat will help you install the seat correctly.
Install your car seat correctly.
Make sure your seat is:
In the back seat.
All children under age 13 should ride in the back seat, so install car seats in the back seat whenever possible.
Never install a rear-facing car seat in front of an active passenger seat air bag; it can cause severe injury or death to rear-facing infants.
Facing the correct direction.
Remember to keep your child rear-facing as long as allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Don’t hurry to turn your child forward-facing, as research shows that young child passengers are safest when riding rear-facing.
Reclined at the correct angle.
Some seats have an adjustable recline feature. Check your car seat manufacturer’s instructions to be sure your car seat is properly reclined.
Installed using either the seat belt or lower anchors.
Remove twists or slack from the seat belt or lower anchor straps, and check your car seat manual to make sure you’ve threaded the seat belt or lower anchor straps through the correct path on the car seat. Note: some seats have two separate paths. If you use a seat belt, make sure the belt is “locked.” Some car seats have a “lock-off” feature that holds the seat belt in place. For a forward-facing car seat, connect the seat’s tether strap (located on the top of the seat) to your vehicle’s tether anchor and tighten.
Installed tightly. The car seat shouldn’t move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch at the belt path.
Buckle your child in the car seat, every time.
Remember that buckling your child in correctly is just as important as installing the seat correctly.
Be sure to check:
The position of the harness straps.
Rear-facing seats: straps should be routed through the harness slots at or just below your child’s shoulders.
Forward-facing seats: Straps should be routed through the harness at or just above your child’s shoulders.
The fit of the harness. The harness straps should be snug and free of twists. You shouldn’t be able to pinch excess webbing at your child’s shoulders.
The harness buckle. Make sure buckle pieces are fully inserted and secure.
The chest clip. Buckle the chest clip at your child’s armpit level.