No matter how confident you are that you have placed a car seat in your car, many people do not place a car seat in car properly, which could place your child in harm’s way in an accident. This is something that should not be taken lightly. Four out of the five car seats that are in cars right now are not properly placed in the car, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign. If you are the parent of a child that needs a car seat, this is a scary thought and many people cannot help but wonder if their child’s car seat is one of the four that are placed incorrectly.
One common mistake made by parents is not tightening the car seat enough, making it too loose and moveable in the car. If the car seat is properly placed, you should not be able to move the car seat more than one inch in any direction that you try to move it in. If it moves more than that, you need to tighten it until that is no longer the case. Not getting the harness that holds your child in the car seat tight enough is another common car seat mistake. You should not be able to pinch the harness straps between your fingers. If you are able to pinch the harness straps, you need to tighten the harness straps until you are no longer able to do so.
Facing the car seat forward too soon is another common mistakes parents make with car seats. In order to be able to place the car seat facing forward, your child needs to be at least one year old, weigh at least twenty pounds, and have a lot of control of their neck muscles in case they are in a crash. If your child is a year old, but does not yet weigh twenty pounds, they should remain backward facing until they reach twenty pounds. Also, if they weigh twenty pounds but are not one year old, they should not face forward until they reach one year.
Not angling the car seat at a forty five degree angle when it is facing the rear of the car is another common car seat mistake made by parents. You should check the level that the car seat has on it to be sure that it is at a forty five degree angle so that your child is as safe as possible while in the car. Using the retainer clip on the car seat is another mistake that is commonly made. The retainer clip is the clip that holds the harness at your child’s breastbone to be sure that they are properly secured in the car seat. If the retainer clips are positioned anywhere other than your child’s breastbone, it is not being used properly.
For the harness straps, there are different slots to use and adjust as your child grows. The best way to be sure that they are being used properly is to check the owner’s manual that came with the car seat. Compare the owner’s manual with the way that you have the car seat configured to be sure that the proper slots are being used for the size of your child. You should also check the slot position periodically so that you can adjust them as your child grows to be sure that they are always positioned properly.
Another common car seat mistake that parents make is not transitioning your child from a car seat to a booster seat. Booster seats should be used on children that have reached forty pounds, so they are too big for a car seat, but they are less than eighty pounds, which is the ideal weight that they should reach before sitting in a car without anything more than a seat belt. I child that is not in a booster seat can suffer massive internal injury if they are involved in a crash due to the impact the seat belt will have on their stomach. Even a minor crash can lead to massive injuries for the child, and even death.
The most dangerous mistake that a parent can make with a car seat is to use a car seat that has either been recalled for safety issues, or has been in a crash already. It is never a good idea to purchase a car seat at a yard sale or other second hand store in the event that the car seat has been in a crash. A good resource for checking to see if your car seat has been recalled is to check the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration website for the latest recalls.
National Safe Kids Campaign
National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration