Properly buckling up your child before a car trip can make the difference between life and death. Estimates show that child car seats are used incorrectly in over 95% of the cases, which leads to 5 children losing their life in car crashes every day.
Here are some of the most common mistakes adults make when using the child car seat:
- They let the car seat and harness straps too loose when they install the car seat. If properly tightened, the chair shouldn’t move more than one inch in any direction. Oftentimes, the straps are also not tightened enough. The harness should only let you fit one finger between the child’s collarbone and the strap
- The chair is not installed at the right angle, which is maximum 45 degrees from vertical, or else the child could be thrown out between the straps
- They purchase used car seats without properly checking them out first. Used car seats might look like a good bargain, but not when you put your child’s safety at risk. If you really want to buy an old seat, make sure you check it out thoroughly to see if it hasn’t been in serious crashes, it has all the components and they are all intact and if that particular model is usable and hasn’t been recalled. Also, it is very important to check the expiration date of the seat. It might seem like a joke, considering that we are not talking about food, but plastic. However, even plastic goes bad or can break after years of being moved around, left in the sun or cold during the night and so on. The typical lifespan of a car seat nowadays is somewhere around 10 to 12 years.
- They don’t choose the safest spot to install the car seat. Try to install the chair in the back seat and away from the air bags (if they are active). If you install just one car seat, put it in the middle of the back seat, where it will also be away from the doors. If you have to install the seat in the front, make sure you deactivate the air bags
- They don’t take into consideration their child’s height, weight and age when buying the car seat. Oftentimes parents want to save a buck and think they can make adjustments and get away with it.
- They face the car seat forward prematurely. For kids who are 2 years old or younger and don’t weigh at least 35 pounds, it is highly recommended to have their car seat facing the rear, because it is 5 times safer this way
- Only approximately 40% of the parents use the tether. The tether is very important because it ensures your child’s head doesn’t move too forward, thus risking to hit the front seat or window in case of an accident
- They overdress the child before putting him in his car seat. Kids shouldn’t be wearing bulky jackets, blankets and so on when traveling in the car seat, because they might hinder the straps from doing their job properly and stay snugly enough. If you want to make sure they’re warm and cozy, cover them with a blanket or so AFTER you’ve properly secured them with the harness.