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Important Car Seat Safety Tips

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The Federal Government estimates that up to 85% of car seats are installed improperly.  Even more frightening is the fact that car accidents are the #1 killer of children under age 12.  Why? Because children are not being properly secured into vehicles. According to Jurewitz law firm in San Diego, which is one among the high ranking motor vehicle law firm in the country, most of the injuries which occur due to a motor vehicle accident happen because of the lack of attention given to the pre-installed safety features such as seat belts and the check engine light. It’s crucial to know how to properly install your car safety seats and properly buckle your children in to protect their lives.  Listed here are four things that every parent should know about car seat safety that could save your child’s life.

Important Car Seat Safety Tips

#1 Make sure that the seat that you use is the right one for your child’s age, height and weight.

If you’re using the wrong type of seat, your child will not be protected when it really counts!  You’ll also want to do a bit of research before deciding and test out the store’s display model to be sure of a proper fit for your child. Make sure your child fits comfortably in the seat with room to grow.  The child’s head should be at least 1″ below the top of the seat’s hard shell.  Straps should be adjusted to rest at their shoulders, untwisted and not loose.  A good rule of thumb…if you can pinch any extra slack in the straps between your fingers, they’re too loose.   See the videos below this post for more information on choosing a car seat and other safety tips

A 5-Point Harness System is recommended for all children until they reach 4‘ 9″ tall (about age 8-12), the minimum required height for safely riding in a motor vehicle with traditional seat belt.

5-point harness

#2 Check the expiration date.

Most car seats have a shelf life of 5 years.  It’s important to retire a car seat after it’s expiration date because of the natural deterioration of it’s internal parts and gears.  In a car accident the intense impact can cause anything to go wrong and old parts to fail.  Don’t take that risk with your child, it’s just not worth it!  Expirations dates are there for a reason, so trust your manufacturer and dispose of it. Call your local police or fire department for more information on disposal of expired car seats.

Car seat expiration date

#3 Never install a car seat in your front seat.

Air bags pose a tremendous risk of harm to your children because both car seats and infants are not equipped to handle the impact.  Whenever possible, seat your child in the middle of the backseat, away from the doors.  This ensures that in a side accident, your child will be as far away from the crash impact area as possible and less likely to sustain injuries. Consult the locksmith Sacramento who will give advice based on the security needs of each individual.

Airbag Hazzard credit HealthyChildren.org

#4 Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible!

The laws state that you can move your child to a forward-facing car seat as early as 12 months or 20 lbs.  But, safety experts strongly caution parents against moving their children to a forward facing seat before they reach a minimum of 24 months and 35 lbs! Children seated in forward-facing car seats are 5 times more likely to be severely injured in car crashes.  This is because in a forward-facing car seat, the child’s body is kept in place by the seat’s harness while their head, arms and legs are left unprotected and can be thrown forward violently during the impact of a crash.  This can cause serious shoulder and neck injuries, even internal decapitation.  Young children are especially vulnerable to these types of injuries because the muscles in their necks are not developed enough to protect their spinal cord during a crash impact. A rear-facing seat cradles the child’s head, neck and shoulders from the impact, preventing these injuries and keeping infants and toddlers safe.  In Europe some countries have laws requiring children to be rear-facing until age 4 or 55 lbs.  It seems more and more parents are taking note of the risk involved in forward-facing your child too soon.  Accordingly, manufacturers are now creating more options for rear-facing seats that accommodate toddlers ages two and up.

University of Michigan Child Passenger Protection
(Rearfacing vs Foreward facing Crash Test)

Important Links:

  • CarSeat.org – A wealth of information about car seat safety!  This is a plain looking website, but it’s the absolute BEST resource out there for car seat safety and it features a lot of information that many sites don’t offer.  In fact all the safety videos below were created by CarSeat.org associates.  You’ll even find travel safety instructions for using your car seats on the airplane!
  • Car-Safety.org –   Another great resource!  This website may look dull, but it’s one of the best resources out there.  It’s definitely worth a thorough reading!
  • SeatCheck.org – Want to know where you can go for a FREE car seat check and safety course?  This link will find a location near you!
  • CDC – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t just for vaccines anymore.  Their website offers a huge amount of information on driving safe too!
  • NHTSA – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives you tips to keep your family safe on the road.  This link directs you to there page for car seat safety (CPS).

Watch car seat safety videos from MonkeySee.com

For legal advice on personal injuries, check out https://dominguezfirm.com/.

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  • Yakini @ThePrissyMom
    March 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks for these tips! I struggle with finding the right tightness of the harness straps for my toddler, since with his winter coat it fits perfectly, but with a little jacket its way too lose and he can slip his arms out. It's difficult to take the seat in and out to adjust the straps underneath, so sometimes he is riding with it loose and it just terrifies me. I'm glad you posted this, as I realize I really need to be more proactive about making sure he is safe in the car.

  • Chris Edwards
    April 25, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Not many people know that car seats are also important besides that car itself. Ensuring your kids' safety while driving should be one of your top priorities. I remember the time that my bestfriend went to an amusement park. While he was driving, they had an accident and his son was injured. It was a good thing that the injury was only minor and he was able to recover fast. Parents should really take these tips seriously in order to keep your kids safe inside the car.

    • Chantilly Pati&ntild
      April 26, 2011 at 2:03 am

      Thanks for the comment Chris! Yes, selecting a car seat should be the TOP PRIORITY of all parents. It is a necessary life-saving tool that many parents overlook. Often we pick seats based on appearance or popularity, but we really need to spend more time putting safety into consideration. I can't tell you how many heartbreaking stories of 'internal decapitation' and other serious injuries I have heard about…and many could be prevented if we just had access to the information. I hope that this post can provide that for readers.

      I'm sorry to hear about what happened with your friend. It's a relief to know that they are ok. ♥

  • Dany
    April 26, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Just a note to echo the importance of rear-facing as long as possible and to let you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their recommendations to include this. Yeah for them! Glad to see a post on this — I'm always amazed at how many incorrectly installed car seats I see going down the road…

    • Chantilly Pati&ntild
      April 26, 2011 at 2:09 am

      Right! 85% installed incorrectly! It's frightening! I'm glad they upgraded their standards…as far as I'm concerned, the national minimum should at the very least be the 24 months and 35 lbs! Hopefully, we will get there and protect more kids. ♥ Thanks for the comment Dany! I'm so glad you found me!

  • Chantilly Pati&ntild
    April 26, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Wow, Yakini…somehow I missed this comment. I'm glad that you found the tips helpful. It's a topic that's near and dear to my heart and I suggest that everyone check out the car seat safety videos from MonkeySee…they are the best! Many resources actually show the wrong way to use a car seat, so I felt that this was important. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you'll also check out the other resources listed here and pass them along. =)

  • Liesel Basil
    May 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    It's hard to predict when an accident may happen on your way, so it is better that you are ready for your own safety and of your child. Today, car seats are included as one of the important baby products that you must have. In choosing car seats, be meticulous! You must check the manufacturer's label and the features. It would also be good if you've known an injury lawyer, with whom you should ask help in case of emergency.