Our children's safety is our responsibility. The car seats we put them in are designed to save their lives in the event of an accident. Of course noone wants to be in a car accident, but if we take the proper precautions we can prevent most, if not all, injury to our children. Following simple guidelines you should be able to find the right seat for you child. Installation is as important as a proper fit. If you are uncertain if your child's seat is installed properly, contact your local Child Passenger Safety Tech. Some doctors offices and WIC offices now have their own techs, or you can contact your local police or fire station for assistance.
Choosing the right car seat for your child is very important. It needs to fit the child and fit correctly in the car, not all car seats fit in all cars. Here is a link that can help with buying a new seat. http://www.carseatdata.org/ Can't afford a new seat? Your local police or health department might be able to help. Don't be afraid to ask, your child's life may count on it.
There are many different seats on the market, those sold at retail stores are all safe and pass the same tests. Seats with a shield or bar in front are not recommend. The car seats with a 5-point harness are the safest for all ages. The price is not as important as choosing the correct seat for your child’s age and weight.
Installing you child's car seat
Is your car seat installed correctly? 8 out of 10 children are not properly restrained. Here is a simple test to help you determine if your seat is correctly installed:
1. Is the seat the right seat for your child? Is your child within the weight and height limits for the seat?
2. Are you using the correct set of harness slots? For a rear- facing child the straps must be at or below the shoulders, for forward facing seats the straps must be at or above the shoulders, in most seats only the top slots are used for forward facing.
3. Is your child facing the right direction? If your child is under 12 months or under 20 lbs he or she MUST ride rear facing in the car. If your child is over 12 months and 20 lbs but still fits rear facing, it is best to keep him or her rear facing until he or she reaches the limits of your seat.
4. Is the car seat installed in the right seating position? A rear-facing seat should never be in the front seat with an air bag. The best place for all children under the age of 12 is the back seat.
5. Is the car seat installed correctly? Is there any movement in the seat if you pull it at the belt path? There should be less than one inch of movement. The best way to get a seat in tight is to climb in it and pull the seat belt tighter.
If you answer no to any of these questions your child may be at risk, please use this link to find a Technician in your area that can help you.
Using Recycled Car Seats?
SafetyBeltSafe USA recommends against used car seats from garage sales or thrift shops. Often these seats are missing parts, damaged, or on recall. There is no way to check them thoroughly without the complete manufacturer’s instruction booklet. They may even have invisible damage from a crash. If a friend or relative gave you a seat, the following checklist may help you decide if you want to use the seat.
• Do not use a safety seat more than ten years old. After five years, check it carefully. Plastic deteriorates in time, and there may be fine hairlines, which could become cracks under stress. Find the individual ‘birth date’ of the seat. It should be on a computer printed label (not the tiny date pre-printed in the corner of the label) stuck to the side or back of the seat. Also look for the sticker stating that the seat was made for use in motor vehicles.
• Get a copy of the manufacturer’s instruction booklet. Bet sure to read and follow the instructions carefully. More than 95% of all car seats inspected at voluntary checkups are being used incorrectly. Improper installation can seriously affect the performance of the seat.
• Check that all parts are present. Including hardware, straps, shields, and plastic clips. Many of these parts are available from the manufacturer, but the seat must not be used until everything is in place, as shown in the instructions.
• Check the seat carefully for evidence of cracking, twisting, worn harness webbing, or broken buckles. If there is any visible damage, do not use the seat.
• Find out if the seat has been recalled by calling the manufacturer or checking the most current recall list (available from SafetyBeltSafe USA). If there has been a recall, the broken or defective part must be replaced before use.
• Never use a car seat that has been involved in a crash! Be sure to find out about the history of any recycled safety restraint you are offered by friends or relatives.
• When in doubt, don’t! When the safety of your child is at stake, the purchase of a brand new safety seat my be the real bargain, especially if you choose one you can use for several years! (www.carseat.org)
What about your older child?
Take the 5-Step Test
1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to ride safely in the car.
Keeping our children safe is our responsibility. Buckle up, and ride safe!