7 out of 10 parents and caregivers wrongly install child safety seats even though 96% of them think they do it right! Why it is important? Because correctly installed seats reduce fatal infant injuries by 71% and 54% for toddlers. In the United States, car crashes are the #1 killer of children aged 1-13.
What are the mistakes and how do we better protect our children?
1. The seat is too loose. Grab it at the base near where the safety belt passes through. You should not be able to move it more than 1” in any direction.
2. The harness is too loose. Once in the seat, pinch it at the shoulder with the chest clip in place. You should not be able to pinch any excess webbing- there should be no slack. Always use the chest clip and position it level with the armpit.
3. The infant is facing forward too soon. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the child should face the rear until they are 2 years old, or until he or she has reached the maximum height or weight capacity.
4. Many seats are not at the proper angle. The seats often are too upright. They should be at a 45 degree angle. Follow instructions carefully.
5. People don’t know the ages stages. Any child between 40-80 pounds and up to 4’9” tall – usually this is between 4-8 years old- needs a booster seat. Any child under 13 should never sit in the front seat.
If you follow these guidelines, you will better protect your children. You can also visit your nearest fire station or police station to have a professional train you and check that the safety seat is properly installed.
Remember, only you can take these actions. The child is vulnerable in many ways and depends on you for safety and well-being.