According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a child under the age of thirteen is involved in a crash every 33 seconds. Fortunately, due to growing awareness of the importance of car seat safety and the dedication of car seat manufacturers to the highest quality and safest products possible, most of those crashes are not fatal.
We can’t control whether or not our child will be in an accident, but we can control some important factors that will increase their chances of surviving in the event of a crash:
- Make sure the car seat is installed correctly.
Yeah, I know—no one reads instructions anymore. This is one time, however, where you should read the installation manual carefully. Every car seat must be secured with either the LATCH system or the seat belt. Once installed, the car seat should fit tightly and should not move more than one inch in any direction. If you’re not sure if you’ve installed it correctly, check out the videos here and here, or visit your local police or fire station. Most of them offer free car seat inspections.
- Make sure your child is buckled in properly.
The harness should fit your child snugly enough that you’re unable to pinch any extra material on the strap. All straps should be flat and not twisted. Additionally, the chest clip should be at armpit level. Anything lower than that can cause damage to the child’s internal organs in the case of an accident. If the neck pads that come on most car seats interfere with correct placement of the chest clip, remove it. Yes, you want your child to be comfortable, but their safety is more important.
- Keep children rear-facing as long as possible.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all children should remain rear-facing until they are two years old and at the maximum height and weight for the car seat. Many parents feel that they should turn the car seat around the first birthday. While the AAP cites one year and 20 lbs as the absolute minimum for front-facing children, studies have proven that children are five times safer in rear-facing car seats, and are 75% less likely to be killed or injured in the event of a crash. This is because rear-facing seats distribute the force of the crash over the entire body, doing a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine.
- Make sure children are in the appropriate car seat for their age, weight and height.
Check the weight and height limit on your car seat. Most infant “bucket seats” can only be used until 35 lbs and 36 inches. Many convertible seats will allow you to keep rear-facing your child up to 45 lbs. After that, a toddler or booster seat will be needed. If cost is an issue, consider buying a car seat that will grow with your child’s needs, like the Diono Radian rXT, which converts to carry children from 5 – 120 lbs, making it the only car seat you’ll need.
- Discard car seats after “expiration.”
Car seats expire in one of two ways. The first is when they hit their expiration date, which is usually printed on the seat itself. Most car seats expire six years after they were made (the date of manufacture). The second way is after they’ve been involved in an accident. You can contact the manufacturer or your car insurance company for more information about replacing a seat that was in an accident. This is the major reason why it’s never a good idea to accept a used car seat, because their integrity is compromised after an accident (even if there’s no visible sign of damage).
Saturday, September 24th, 2016 is National Seat Check Saturday, so as you load up the car to enjoy your weekend, stop and make sure that everyone is riding safely.
For more information on car seat safety, visit the experts below.
babydroppings chose to partner with Diono to bring you this important message this weekend. We believe that Diono has an extraordinary commitment to safety and empowering parents to make educated choices for their kids. I received no monetary compensation for this post, only the product for testing and review. As always, all opinions are mine.