Car Seat Safety For Kids: 101

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A Safe Car Seat for Your Child

Whenever you travel with your child, it is critical that your child remains restrained in a properly fitted car seat. With all of the various car seats available on the market, it is difficult to know which ones are the best and safest. Many parents, thinking they are choosing a safe seat may make a potentially dangerous mistake and never know it until the unfortunate event of a car accident.

Common Mistakes When Searching for a Car Seat

During your quest for a safe car seat for your child, try to avoid common mistakes:

Used Car Seats with an Unknown History

Car seats can be expensive and during a child’s lifetime, he will need several types of safety seats before he is able to sit on a car sit without a seat. Naturally, many parents want to save money and are even offered a few “gently used” hand-me-down seats, but before you buckle your child into that used car seat, think about his safety. Inspect the seat thoroughly to ensure that there is a label that clearly shows both the model number and the date of manufacture and that instructions are included with the seat. Additionally, you may want to see if the car seat has ever been recalled. The car seat should not be over 6 years of age and have any missing parts or visible damage. One of the most important things to consider when using a used car seat is if it has ever been in a crash, even the smallest of accidents could make the seat less safe. When in doubt, don’t use it!

Improper Placement in the Vehicle

When installing your child’s seat, it’s important to place it in the safest part of the car as possible. The car seat should always be placed in the backseat, when possible, and away from active airbags. If airbags deploy, during an accident, your child can be injured or even killed if his safety seat is improperly placed. If no back seats are available (for instance, in a pickup truck), make sure you deactivate passenger side airbags before traveling with your child. The optimal place for your child’s seat is in the middle of the back seat, where it is away from doors.

Buckling Up the Wrong Way

As a new parent, there are lots of things to keep straight and many things to learn. One of the most important things you should get right immediately is how to properly secure your child in his car seat. Before you buckle your child into his seat, you want to make sure that his seat is properly installed and secured into a safe spot in your vehicle. First off, read the manual. For many parents, that’s the easiest way to get it right. When in doubt, look for a “Car Seat Clinic” (who will double check your car seat placement) or ask a fellow parent. Your seat should be flush with the seat and not shift back and forth. Also, make sure that your child is faced in the right direction. If your child is under the age of one year old or within specific weight or height limitations, your infant should be placed in a rear facing position.

The Right Way is the Safe Way

New parents are bombarded with a lot of new information to “perfect”, which can be overwhelming at times, but one of your highest priorities should be securing your child’s car seat safely. If you have any questions or feel unsure of how you installed the seat, talk with friends or family, search the internet, or even consider speaking with safety officials. Your child is your most precious cargo, keep him safe!

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