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car seat

Sunday marks the beginning of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 15-21, 2013) so we thought we’d take the time to talk about car seat safety! Do you know if you are using the right car seat for your child? Or if your child’s car seat is installed properly and safely every time?

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 12 years old.  Choosing the correct seat for your child and and installing it properly are the easiest ways to protect your child in the event of an accident.

Here are four stats every parent should know about car seat safety!

  • 75% of car seats are used incorrectly
  • Using the wrong car seat for your child will not protect them in an accident
  • Any car seat that’s installed incorrectly will not protect your child in an accident
  • A properly installed car seat used incorrectly will not protect your child in an accident

So how do you know if you are using your car seat correctly?

  • Make an appointment to have your car seat professionally installed at a free inspection event; you can find a list of over 8,000 free events at SafeKids.org.
  • Call your local Highway Patrol office to find out if they offer free car seat checks.
  • Stop by a Right Start store and have the manager help you safely and correctly install your car seat. All Right Start store managers are Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians and are more than happy to help show you the proper way to install your child’s car seat.

Car Seat Safety Doesn’t Stop With the First Installation

Here are 12 more tips to help you keep your child safe any time he or she rides in your vehicle.

  1. Don’t just have your seat installed correctly, learn how to install it yourself.  Car seats often have to be moved between cars, into different locations in your car or taken on trips, so you have to make sure that you can safely install your child’s car seat.
  2. Make sure you learn how to safely use your child’s car seat.  Is the safety harness tight enough?  Are the chest clips in the proper location?  Is your car seat being used in the proper location in your car?  Make sure to check your car’s owner’s manual to find out where the best locations in your car are to use your car seat.
  3. Often times, LATCH can only be used on the outboard seat positions, not the middle seat.  Do NOT use the side LATCH anchors for a middle installed car seat; this is not safe.  Always read your owner’s manual to determine which positions are approved for using LATCH for install.
  4. LATCH may also not be the safest option for securing your child’s car seat.  LATCH has a maximum weight capacity and you must take into consideration your child’s car seat weight along with your child’s weight. Always read the owner’s manual to determine the weight capacity of your LATCH anchors.
  5. Most car seats are NOT approved to use both LATCH and a safety belt.  Often you must use one or the other.
  6. Check the tightness of the installation of the car seat at least once a month.  Pressure on the car seat while driving around and placing your child in and out of the seat causes it to loosen over time.
  7. A child should NEVER strap him- or herself into a car seat.  Always make sure to check that the safety strap or harness is used properly and is tight enough to secure your child in the event of an accident.
  8. Keep your baby rear-facing for as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should sit in a rear-facing position for up to 2 years of age (so long as your child has not outgrown the car seat).
  9. Keep your child in a five-point harness for as long as possible.  It is so much safer for your child to be in a five-point harness that properly fits their weight and height than a lap-shoulder belt.  Look for a convertible or booster seat that has a high weight capacity for the 5-point harness, such as the new Britax Frontier 90 Combination Harness-2-Booster car seat, which can be safely used for children weighing up to 90 pounds with a harness.  Remember, your child must fit within the weight capacity of the harness they are using, so it is not safe to use a five-point harness with a 50 pound weight capacity for a child who weighs 55 pounds.
  10. Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is truly ready to use a seat belt.  Your child needs to be able to sit in your vehicle’s seat with his or her butt against the back of the seat, knees bent over the front edge of the seat, the lap belt lying low on the thighs and the shoulder belt lying in the middle of the clavicle bone in order to use a seat belt safely.  The seat belt should not hit the neck or slide off the shoulder.
  11. Car seats expire, generally in about 5-7 years!  Make sure to check your child’s car seat to make sure the seat you are using is NOT expired.  Some seats state their expiration date on them, but you can always contact the manufacturer to find this date.  Over time the integrity of the car seat is compromised due to extreme temperature changes in the car (remember cars can get hot!).
  12. And remember, it is never ever safe to leave baby in the car alone for any reason.  Even for one minute.

Thank you to Wes Bender from Safe Kids Worldwide and Britax for these important safety reminders during Child Passenger Awareness Week!

Did you consult with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to help you properly install your child’s car seat?

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