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Most Parents Are Not Installing Car Seats Correctly

Steve Wagner

Car Seat ComparisonsAre you buckling your child into their safety seat properly? Its possible you are not operating your child’s car seat or booster seat correctly, and you may not even know it.

In a recent survey from Safe Kids Worldwide, it was discovered that nine out of 10 parents were not aware of common mistakes they were making when installing car seats, or fastening their children into those seats.

Not only is installation incredibly important to safety, but making sure your child is in the right type of seat for their size and age is equally as important. Infants and small children should remain rear-facing for a recommended time of at least two years. Many parents are opting to leave children rear-facing even longer, because of the increased protection this position offers them in the event of a crash. Young children are 75% less likely to be injured or killed in a crash when they are properly restrained in a rear-facing car seat. Some studies have cited that children are as much as five times safer in the rear facing position, because of the strain it takes off of their back and neck when the vehicle is struck.

In addition to extended rear-facing, many parents are moving their kids up from convertible forward-facing seats into booster seats at far too young an age. Children should meet or exceed the weight limit on a convertible seat, and be a minimum of 57 inches tall before moving to a booster seat.

When installing the seat:

  • Ensure that all the straps are straight, no twists or pinches in them
  • Check with your car seat’s manual to find out whether you should be using the “Latch” system, or your car’s seat belt. There are weight limits for the Latch system, and your child may exceed those limits before they reach the weight limit on the car seat.
  • Make use of the tether system for any forward facing car seat.
  • When your seat is installed, it should not have more than an inch of “wiggle” room to it. Give it a hard shake and make sure it doesn’t shift in the seat more than about an inch.
  • DO NOT install the car seats using both the seat belt AND the Latch system. The seats are designed to absorb impact in the event of a crash, and if they are restrained too tightly, that impact could be transferred to your child, nearly defeating the purpose of the seat.

When buckling your child:

  • Make sure all the straps are located at the proper height on their shoulders. For rear-facing, the straps should go over their shoulders, and tuck down slightly behind them. For forward-facing, the straps should fit slightly above their shoulders.
  • Check that there are no twists, tangles, or pinches in the straps, both above and below the seat padding.
  • Make proper use of the chest clip by placing it in the right location! The chest clip should fit snuggly against the child’s CHEST. The rule of thumb is that it should fit best “armpit to armpit”.
  • Tighten the straps down all the way, so that there is not enough room to pinch any slack in them.

If you have any questions about whether or not you are installing your seats correctly, you can check with your local car seat inspection location, and they will help educate you in the best way to care for your seats and your children!

If your child has been injured from a faulty seat, or if they were injured due to the misuse of a seat, give our motor vehicle accident attorneys a call at (888) 204-8440 for more information.


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