According to a report, 80% of kids are not properly seated in their car seat and thus many children are unnecessarily injured in car accidents. Still, many of us do not always use a safe car seat for our children. Here are some basic tips to follow so that we can reduce the risk of our babies getting injured in an accident.
The biggest mistakes parents often commit is not using the correct car seat and not installing the car seat so that it is facing in the right direction.
a) Infants should be in a rear facing infant car seat or convertible car seat until they are 1 year old and weigh 20 pounds. Kids whose weight remains less than 20 pounds even after 1 year should also continue to face backwards.
b) When a child is over 1 year in age and weighs more than 20 pounds, then they can be seated in a forward facing car seat until they reach 40 pounds. Children over forty pounds should be placed into a belt positioning booster car seat and they should usually stay in it until they are at least 8 years old.
c) Regular seat belts should not be used for your child until they fit correctly, approximately when your child is about 80 pounds and is 4 feet 9 inches tall. Your child should not use regular seat belts until the shoulder strap fits across his shoulder and not his neck, and the lap belt fits across his hips and not his stomach.
d) You should not allow your child to sit in the front seat until he/she is more than 12 years of age
e) Do not use a car seat which has its harness straps too loose or in the wrong position. Always lock the seat belt properly with a locking clip, secure the seat belt correctly and do not place an infant seat in the way of an air bag.
f) Always make sure that the harness chest clip of the infant seat is positioned at your child’s armpit level, the harness straps are straight, the rear-facing straps are positioned at or a bit below your child’s shoulders, the seat is reclined at about a 45 degree angle and never ever place an infant in a rear-facing child restraint in the front seat of a car.
g) When you are using a rear facing convertible seat, check carefully whether the harness straps are positioned at or a bit below your child’s shoulders, the harness chest clip is at the armpit level, the harness straps are straight and the seat is reclined at a 45-degree angle.
h) While using a forward facing convertible seat, insure that the harness straps are positioned at or slightly above your child’s shoulder, the straps are straight and the harness chest clip’s position is around your child’s mid-chest or armpit area.
i) You can only use a forward facing combination seat if the harness straps are positioned at, or slightly above, your child’s shoulders and you must stop using a shield booster when your child is 40 pounds.
j) If you want to use a belt-positioning booster seat, first make sure that you are using the lap/shoulder belt combination with a belt-positioning booster. Never use just a lap belt. Secondly, the shoulder belt must rest across the chest and thirdly the lap-belt should remain across the lap or upper thigh area and not across the stomach
Finally, do not use a car seat that:
- was involved in a car crash,
- is more that 10 years old,
- does not have a label with its date of manufacture,
- does not have instructions
- has a crack in its frame or has some part missing.
Following these tips on how to install a car seat will help protect your baby!