“Honey, we had a car wretch” are the words no parent would like to hear. A car seat is an essential safety measure that prevents children from being injured during an accident. Every parent knows about it, but not all of them are using it correctly: Three out of four car seats aren’t appropriately used.
Here are the most common mistakes:
- Loose installation;
- Poorly or loose positioned straps;
- Wrong recline angle;
- Wrong seat for your car or your child;
- Changing forward-facing or booster seat too soon;
- Using a second-hand car seat, or one that has already seen an accident.
The following stories may encourage you to pay more attention to the child’s seat.
1. The wrong usage of a booster seat, or a mistaken usage of seat belts, brought Samantha Swartwout, 6, to the hospital for three weeks with serious stomach injuries.
2. A mother's attentive eyes may have saved her baby:
The straps were too loose, and the chest clip was way too low. And because I know my husband, I’m sure that he laughed at me and rolled his eyes before tightening the car seat and fixing the chest clip.
Fortunately, her husband had adjusted the seat, despite his laughter, and her baby didn’t even wake up during the car crash. Her husband, William, had a severe foot injury.
3. Reckless drivers not stopping at the red light is a situation everyone can face every day. This happened to Sarah Sutton and her four kids. All of her children were sitting in car seats, even the oldest, who was 6 at the time. No kids were seriously injured, only shocked. Sarah encourages parents to use seats as long as possible.
The following tips are universal for every type of seats:
- Install the infant seat a few weeks before the birth of the baby. The website safekids.org has safety technicians who can check or help you with the instalation.
- You need the car and the seat instructions. They have to jibe for the seat to work correctly.
- Find the correct placement according to the instructions. Not all seats match your car model.
- There are two latch anchor points between the seat cushion and the seat back. Clip the metal connectors attached to either side of the base into the latch ports. You’ll need to apply pressure.
- Push down the base with one hand while tightening the strap with the other. It should not move by more than one inch.
- Put the infant seat on the base and make sure it has a 45-degree angle. Use installed level to check it.
- Chest clip must be at armpit level. Check if you can pinch the webbing on one of the shoulder straps together. If so, the harness it too loose.
- Use the seat until your baby turns at least two.