Car Seat Safety Tips for Kids
When you have a child, a lot of your time is spent making sure your home is a safe place for them to be. You do things like make sure dangerous items are stored out of reach, cover your electrical outlets, and use baby gates to keep them away from staircases and other unsafe places, just to name a few. But no matter how safe your house is, you can’t stay home forever and as you head out and about with your child, you’ll most likely be taking your car.
In the event of a car accident, seatbelts will do a lot to protect adults, but children need the extra protection of a car safety seat. Among infants under the age of 1, car safety seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by up to 71%. But to get the most protection from a car safety seat, they need to be used correctly and it’s extremely common for parents to make mistakes when using them. The NHTSA estimates that about 59% of all child safety seats are used incorrectly. To help keep your child safe on the road, here are five tips you should know.
Meet With a Specialist
Car safety seats can be confusing to install, particularly if you’re a first-time parent. It’s very common for people to be unsure if their car seat is installed correctly or not. But the good news is that there is a way to get help. You can make an appointment with a certified technician who will be able to help you install your car seat, inspect your seat to make sure it’s installed correctly, and answer any questions you might have. Visit the NHTSA website to find a technician near you. Best of all, this service is completely free in most cases!
Winter Coats and Blankets
It’s important to keep your child warm, but when a child is in a car seat while wearing a thick, puffy coat or wrapped in a blanket, it can be more difficult for the car seat to do its job. With the added bulk, the harness can be left too loose to adequately protect the child in the event of a car accident. Consumer Reports has a great guide to determining whether or not a coat is too thick to safely be worn in a car seat. If your child’s coat is too bulky to wear in the car seat, it’s best to put the child in the seat without the coat, then put the coat on your child backwards so that it goes over the harness. Blankets should also be placed over the child after it’s placed in the seat.
Rear-Facing or Front-Facing?
There are a lot of different types of car seats out there and trying to figure out which one is best for your child can be one of the most confusing parts of working with car seats. AAA and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend keeping children in rear-facing car seats until they are at least two years old. Because children under the age of two aren’t yet as strong as older children or adults, being in the rear-facing position provides them with extra protection to the head, neck, and spinal cord, making it five times less likely they will die or be seriously injured in a car accident. Rear-facing car seats should also be placed in the backseat so that the child won’t be at risk of being injured by airbags.
Pay Attention to Height and Weight Limits
Kids grow very quickly, so it’s important to regularly check to make sure they haven’t outgrown their car seat. All car seats have height and weight limits and if a child isn’t using an a car seat designed for their size, it not only won’t be comfortable for the child, it won’t provide enough protection in a car accident.
Avoid Used Car Seats
Because kids grow so fast, lots of parents don’t want to spend a lot of money on things that will quickly be outgrown. While there are plenty of baby items that are perfectly safe to purchase secondhand, used car seats can be risky. Like food, child safety seats have an expiration date which reflects how long its components should be strong enough to protect the child. If you can’t find an expiration date printed on the seat itself, you’ll need to check the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to find out. You’ll also have to check to make sure the car seat hasn’t been recalled. However, if a car seat has been recalled, you may be able to get a repair or remedy from the manufacturer.
The biggest risk of buying a used car seat is that it can be hard to be 100% sure about the history of the car it was used in. If a car seat has been through an accident, its components can be strained in ways that aren’t always visible. So even if a child safety seat looks perfectly fine on the surface, it can be hard to tell just how effective it will be at protecting your child.
No matter how hard you try to protect your child on the road, accidents can still happen without warning. At Goodwin & Scieszka, our car accident attorneys are here to help answer your questions and figure out what your legal options are. Contact us so we can learn more about your case.