You may have a good car seat, but is it installed properly? Use this article and go check your car right now. Statistics show that nearly 50% of children under 5 years old who died in vehicular accidents were actually strapped in—but the car seat was too loose, or placed at the wrong angle. Don’t take any chances. Just a few minutes of double checking your car seat can save your child’s life.
Car seat hazard # 1: The carseat is too loose
Grip the car seat base with both hands, and then shake or wiggle it. It should be so securely fastened that you can’t move it more than an inch on either side, nor backwards or forward. To tighten it properly, press your knee against the seat, and then tighten the seat belt as much as you can. Don’t forget to lock the seat belt; ideally use a locking clip.
Car seat hazard # 2: The harness is too loose
The harness should be very secure—enough that you can’t even pinch the harness fabric with your fingers. A loose harness puts your child at risk for slipping out or even being ejected from the seat during a high-impact crash.
Car seat hazard # 3: The car seat is at the wrong degree
Many parents install the seat at an upright angle. It should be 45 degrees. To check, fold a square piece of paper so that it forms a triangle. Then, position the longest part of the triangle against the back of the car seat (where your baby’s back would rest). Then look at the upper edge of the triangle. It should be parallel to the ground; if it’s tilted, then you need to fix the car seat angle.
Car seat hazard # 4: Using a face-forward car seat too early
Experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend using a rear-facing car seat until your child is a year old, and weighs a minimum of 20 pounds. That’s because a baby’s spine is very weak, so during a crash, his head can catapult forward and expose his spinal cord—leading to paralysis, and even death.
A word on booster seats
Booster seats should have a headrest that can support his head during a crash. If you get a high-back belt-positioning booster, use the harness until your child is 40 pounds.
Photo from www.vertexauto.com