While pregnant with my firstborn, a firefighter/EMT fried of mine told me that after nearly two decades of being the first on the scene for highway accidents, he is a firm believer in using car seats for children as long as possible.
Five-point harnesses are the best, he recounted…in fact, he’d never seen a child with a life-threatening injury who was in one that was properly installed. An improperly installed car seat, however, and all bets are off. Contrasted with my friend who’s nephew was paralyzed because his five point harness wasn’t properly buckled during a car accident (the chest piece hadn’t been secured and moved up to the proper level).
His words have stayed with me throughout the years; I take our car seats very seriously. Much research has gone into selecting a model with the safety features I value that is also compatible with my car. I’ve driven my husband batty reminding him to pull the clip up higher, tug those straps tighter, anchor the seat more firmly.
Imagine my surprise when I ran across this article that informed, “84 percent of kids have at least one critical misuse of their seat — that means MOST OF US use our seats wrong, and dangerously so.”
After some investigation, I found that the following are some of the most common child seat installation and usage mistakes:
- Wrong size or type of car seat for the child’s age or weight.
- Child facing wrong direction according to age.
- Seat not fastened securely to car (for example, only using seat belt when instructions call for tethers as well).
- Car seat placed in front seat.
- Using a defective or broken car seat.
- Car seat placed in dangerous location in relation to air bags
- Shoulder straps too loose or not in correct position for child’s height.
- Harness or straps not correctly fastened.
Yeah, there’s a lot of ways things can go wrong. It’s worth having the installation inspected by a certified technician. Don’t know where to find on in your area? The nice people over at The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have created this handy tool to help you find one close by.
It’s worth the peace of mind!
Do you have a car seat that is properly installed for the correct age/weight/height of each of your children? Do you read the instruction manual that comes with your car seat or have your seats checked out by a professional?
Check out Babble’s best car seats and buckle up safely!