Is Your Child’s Car Seat Safe?
By Kay Green,
We keep hearing about how 4 out of 5 car seats are installed incorrectly. How can you be sure your child’s is installed correctly? One way is to read the instruction manual that came with your child’s car seat and your car’s owner’s manual. That will give you some good clues. You can also have it checked by your local fire station or car seat safety clinic.
Parent’s January Magazine tells us the 8 most often made mistakes? Have you made any of them?
Mistake #1: Seat Too Loose
The seat should not move more than one inch right to left.
Mistake #2: Harness Too Loose
You should not be able to pinch the fabric of the harness belt.
Mistake #3: Facing Wrong Way
Keep your child rear facing until age 2.
Mistake #4: Wrong Angle
Rear facing infant seat should be at a 45 degree angle.
Mistake #5: Retainer Clip Wrong
This clip must be at arm pit level.
Mistake #6: Wrong Slots
Read your car seats instructions.
Mistake #7: No Booster Seat
Children up to 4'9" need to be in a booster seat.
Mistake #8: Recalled Seat
Check your car seat against the recalled list often.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Harness Error - Another mistake I see often is taking kids out of the 5-point harness too soon. The child needs to stay in the harness until they are 4 years and 40 pounds. When you switch to a booster with no harness for a child over 4 years and 40 pounds remember to belt the booster seat into the car even when your child is not in it. If not the booster seat can become a flyer projectile in a wreck.
Right Size Seat - Is your child in the right size car seat? I saw a mom with a 17 mo old in an infant car seat. She said "He is under 20 pounds so I can not move him" WRONG. Car seats have weight, height, and age requirements. Most babies will be out of the height requirements for an infant car seat at 5-9 months. Their head should be at least one inches from the top of the car seat.
My daughter was under 30 pounds in her 40 pound limit convertible car seat and I thought fine. But then saw the straps were not staying on her shoulders well. She was too tall for it and had to move to a booster seat (with 5 point harness) that held 22-80 pounds. The forward facing car seat should have the straps coming from above their shoulders. When the child's shoulders are taller than the highest slot it is time to move them to a new seat.
SEAT SIZE GUIDELINES:
Check your seats instructions to verify these for your seat.
Newborns birth to 26 inches - infant rear facing carrier seat
Babies - rear facing convertible seat until age 2 - better to keep them rear facing to 30-45 lbs lbs.,
Toddlers age 2+ - forward facing seat with 5 point harness
Preschoolers to 4'9" - Booster seat with cars belt over the top.
Emergency Contact Card - Additionally your child’s car seat should have emergency contact info attached. In a car accident professional’s need to be able to reach dad at work or grandma if you are not able to help your child. A car seat ID card with a medical release signature will protect your child in a car accident giving medical professionals all the information they need to treat your child immediately.
Booster Seat Rules - Most state rules now require
that children’s stay in the booster seat until 8 years / 80 pounds / 4'9". The new federal guideline is until 4' 9" tall. This means safer kids and fewer fatalities for children in car wrecks. I am glad to keep my child in her comfortable car seat. She is happier and healthier every time we go in the car. Since she is so comfortable in her favorite booster seat she travels much better.
Keep your child in a booster until the right age/weight for your states rules AND until your child can sit on the seat and have the seat belt fall across the chest without touching their neck/face, and until their legs bend correctly at the end of the seat. (Usually 4'9")
BOOSTER SEATS & the "5 STEP TEST - In order to work properly, a shoulder belt needs to be across the collarbone and the lap belt needs to be on the hipbones. However, children often slip the shoulder belt under their arm or behind their back, losing all upper-body protection. Or, they slide forward so their knees bend comfortably over the edge of the seat, making the lap belt ride up on the abdomen. In these cases, the seat belt CANNOT work properly! Children can slide down and out of the restraint, or the belt can be forced into the stomach, causing damage to internal organs. These types of injuries are known as "seat-belt syndrome."
Use the following 5 Step Test. If you answer "No" to any of these questions, your child must be in a booster seat:
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. Is the lap belt touching the top of the thighs, not the tummy?
4. Is the shoulder belt centered on the shoulder and chest?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
Children 4-8 years - Children over 4 and 40 pounds may be in a booster seat without a harness (unless you have the one Britax seat that has harnesses rated to 65 pounds or the RADIAN rated to 80 pounds). Most all car seats have harnesses only rated to 40 pounds so using them for your child heavier than that puts them at risk. I recently learned that my daughters booster seat should NOT be connected with the latch system and anchor strap when using it for her with automobiles seat belt (not the 5 point harness). Most seats have not been tested with both latch belt, anchor belt and cars seat belt over the top. They have been tested with the cars belt only over the top. However the new RADIAN Monterey Expandable Booster may be attached by latch on the back and the cars belt across the top.
Please take the time to be sure that your car seat is installed correctly, fits your child, has emergency contact information. Go to one of the many free Car Seat Safety Inspections to make certain. If the event of a wreck you will be glad you covered all the bases.
NOTE: I am not a certified car seat technician. I am a mom concerned about kids. Please have your car seat checked by a certified car seat technician for correct installation. Please read your child's car seat manual.
Car Seat Safety Article http://www.carinsurance.org/car-seat-advice-saves-your-childs-life/
|Item #06-112||Diono Radian RXT Car Seat|
|Item #06-111||Diono Radian 120 Car Seat|
|Item #06-110||Diono Radian 100 Car Seat|
Articles written by Kay Green, Child Safety Expert, and Christian mom to Melissa 30 (married to Matthew), Jordan 27 (married to Katie), Allison 25, Haley 12. Kay and Russell, her husband of 33 years live in rural Oregon.
Kay's first granddaughter Madison
Kay was born December 2006. Twin grandsons Micah & Mason
May 2009. Granddaughter Emma Kate was born in September 2010.
http://www.MyPreciousKid.com Child Safety, Cloth Diaper & Baby Gear Store
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All rights reserved. Reprinting is only with this author's box and copyright intact.