It is a sad truth, but the lead cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 13 is car accidents. These deaths are preventable if you use the proper car seat. We keep our kids safer from a lot of things when we use a car seat, not just in a car accident. They are more comfortable, sleep better, and can even see better when they are older.
Many people know the truth about car seats but they still don’t use them properly. The truth is that your child’s safety may be at risk, so make sure you pay attention to these tips for car seat success:
Snugness is the Secret
Far too many parents aren’t tightening the straps enough because they think their child is uncomfortable with those straps. They loosen the straps too much.
Think about it this way, as your car moves, loose straps can fall and be rendered ineffective.
Rear Facing is Right
You might be in a hurry to switch your child to a forward-facing seat so that you can see him or her when you are in the car, but don’t be. Just because you can put your child in a forward facing seat doesn’t mean you should do it.
A common fear is that children are uncomfortable because their legs are folded up against the back of the seat. However, children are actually safer when they are rear facing, especially safe from leg injuries.
Be Proactive When In Forward Facing Mode
Once you do move your child into a forward facing car seat, you have to be smart. Your child’s brain and spine aren’t as safe now that they are open to more injury. Always use the tether strap that comes with the seat and learn how to install it properly. There are different methods for each car, so don’t assume it is the same in each one. In almost all vehicles since 2000, If you do not have an anchor, check your owner’s manual for help.
Some seats use a LATCH system. Latch means Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. It uses parts in your car and parts on the seat for cars manufactured since 2003. Most car seats will have the LATCH system. Though it sometimes seems a little more confusing and it can take more time than other methods, it will be well worth it.
So it needs to be repeated: use the proper tether or latching system, no matter what. There is no way to be too prepared.
Don’t Use a Booster Seat Too Soon
Any child who uses a booster seat must be at least four years old, must weigh at least 40 pounds, and be mature enough to sit in the booster. This means that they won’t be throwing themselves around, leaning over, or take off their own seat belt. In many cases, children aren’t truly ready for a booster seat until they hit about six years of age. You need to be honest with yourself about your child’s maturity.
However, you also need to make sure that you keep your child in a booster seat for as long as possible. As long as your child looks awkward when wearing a seat belt, you need to keep him or her in that booster seat.
Everyone In Your Family Most Model Seatbelt Safety
If your child looks around and sees that not everyone is wearing a seatbelt, he or she might think that it means they don’t have to either. Once a child is in a booster seat, it is easy to click that button and take it off. You have to be the model here, not only for your child, but for everyone else in your car as well. Once your child grows up, they will drive by themselves and you want them to wear a seat belt then too.
If you aren’t used to wearing your car seat, it might seem like something that you can’t do. However, most cars are fitted with an alarm that will go off if not everyone is wearing a seatbelt. You can also make it a habit not to start driving until everyone is ready to go – you’ll be surprised how quickly it happens.
Have the Installation Checked by A Trained Individual
Do not go to the fire department or the police department to have your car seat installation checked. Instead, go to someone who is trained. Often times, nurses at hospitals will work with you to get the proper fit in the first seat, but as soon as you change seats, you need to get them rechecked.
Go to nhtsa.gov and find out where the nearest trained technician is that can help you.
Go for the Center if You Can
The center seat in the back of your car is the safest place for a child to be. This is because your child is less likely to take a direct hit or hit their heads if they are in the center of the car, especially in a forward-facing car seat. You should still listen to all of the other rules that go along with a car seat, including tethers and straps.
Don’t Text and Drive
This one should go without saying. Even if your child is not in your car, you need to be fully aware of everything going on around you. Distracted driving can lead to fatalities and accidents that could have easily been avoided any other way.
Once again, if you text and drive, you will be modelling bad behavior for your children, and then they might grow up to do the same thing.
Car Seats Do Expire!
If you are trying to save some money by using an older seat, it might not be worth it. Make sure you know that car seats do expire and they expire at different rates per the manufacturer.
Even if the seat has not expired, you should consider using a seat that is older. You have no idea what that seat has gone through and sometimes seats that look like they are in good condition really aren’t.
Replace Your Car Seat If You’ve Been in an Accident
Once your car seat has been in an accident, it is time to retire it and move onto something else. There may be damage that wasn’t apparent to your eyes and that can result in the seat being less effective if you are in an accident again.