The biggest and most common mistake parents and caregivers make when it comes to car safety is improperly installing or using their child’s car seat. It is incredibly important that you make sure to properly install, use, and maintain your child’s car seat, because this will make sure that your child is as safe as they can possibly be when they are in the car with you.
Here is a list of things to think about and follow to make sure that you have a safe experience with your car seat.
Read the Car Seat’s User Manual
Before attempting to install the car seat, you should take the time to read through the included user manual. This will ensure that you understand the proper way to install the car seat, as well as how to secure your child in it safely.
Make Sure The Car Seat is Appropriate For Your Child’s Age, Height & Weight
Your child will not be safe if the car seat they are using does not fit them properly. There are guidelines that you can follow that will make sure that you select the proper car seat; you can find a car seat guide on the front page of our site here. Here are some general pointers:
- Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing infant car seat from the day they go home from the hospital until 2 years of age, or until they outgrow the weight/height limits specified for their car seat. Of course, the longer they are in a rear-facing car seat, the better.
- When a child outgrows their rear-facing car seat, they should use a forward-facing car seat for as long as possible.
Never Use an Infant Car Seat in the Front of a Vehicle With Air Bags
Placing your infant car seat in the passenger seat of a vehicle with air bags could lead to serious injury, or even death. Air bags are extremely dangerous to infants, because if it deploys, it will hit the back of the car seat where the baby’s head rests.
Always install your infant car seat in the rear car seats of your vehicle. The back seat is a lot safer than the front seat for all children, but if necessary, you can put a car seat in the front seat as long as there is no air bag.
Make Sure the Harness Fits Properly
The harness of the car seat should be adjusted that it fits properly against your child. It should be snug, but not overly tight. You’ll want to read the instructions that came with the car seat to find out the proper way to adjust the straps.
The chest clip of the harness should be placed at armpit level, which will keep the straps on the child’s shoulders properly.
Ensure That the Car Seat Fits Properly in Your Vehicle
Some car seats will simply not fit correctly in all vehicles. For example, some smaller vehicles will have a hard time fitting larger car seats properly. Even if the car seat will fit, you may find it very difficult to install it in a smaller vehicle due to the lack of space.
Beware of Used Car Seats
If you are going to go the route of buying a used car seat, there are some precautions you should take. First of all, never use a car seat that has been in a car accident, nor should you use an older seat that has been recalled, or has cracks or signs of damage. You should also avoid using a car seat that has missing parts.
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