According to TODAY Parents, 93% of parents leaving the hospital made at least one critical error when installing the car seat or positioning their baby in the seat. Car seats, when installed correctly, are lifesaving pieces of equipment. However, many parents are making dangerous car seat mistakes that put their children at risk. At Carsforsale.com, we are passionate about vehicle safety, especially when it comes to protecting our most precious cargo. Here are 5 of the most common car seat mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Loose seat installation
One of the most common car seat mistakes is loose installation. When tightening a car seat or car seat base, put your knee and your entire body weight on the safety seat and pull as hard as possible. You may look ridiculous trying to fasten the seat tightly, but it’s absolutely necessary to protect your child in the event of a crash.
TEST: If you can move the seat as much as one inch in any direction, it isn’t tight enough.
2. Loose straps
Once the foundation is secure, the straps must be tight enough to hold your child in place. Many parents make this car seat mistake on a daily basis. It can be frightening when you first tighten the straps of a car seat around your precious new born, but tight straps save lives.
TEST: To make sure you aren’t squishing your child, ensure 1 finger can slide between your child and the strap. To ensure your child is secure, make sure you cannot pinch the strap from the outside.
3. Positioning the chest clip incorrectly
The chest clip actually goes on the chest. Many parents feel that a highly positioned chest clip will restrict the breathing of the child, and this causes them to position the clip too low.
TEST: The chest clip should be roughly in line with the child’s armpits.
4. Bundling up your child
Carsforsale.com is based in South Dakota, so we understand harsh winters. Protecting our children from the frigid wind and subzero temperatures is a necessity, but it can be dangerous. Bulky winter clothing can interfere with the effectiveness of a car seat. Any compressible material between the child and the strap is equivalent to space, increasing the risk of your child thrusting into the straps in the event of a crash.
TEST: Is your child wearing a coat? Children, especially infants, simply should not wear coats in a car seat. Alternatively, you can warm up the car in advance or use blankets over the fastened safety seat.
5. Incorrect shoulder harness position
Harness position will change as a child grows and transitions from rear-facing car seat to front-facing seat. Not adjusting the harness with these changes is an easily avoidable, common car seat mistake.
TEST: The harness in a rear facing seat should be snugly below the shoulders. The harness in a front facing car seat should at or above the child’s shoulders.
Confused? Consult an expert.
Most cities have FREE car seat inspection and installation stations. The NHTSA has a free tool to find a station near you. We highly recommend that all parents utilize these services before the baby is born. Remember, even parents who think they know what they are doing install the seat incorrectly.
Your children are the most precious cargo you will every carry. Don’t compromise the safety of your children by committing these common car seat mistakes. If you’re looking for your next family vehicle, be sure to search Carsforsale.com. With millions to choose from, you’re sure to find a safe and affordable vehicle for your family.
Want to learn more about vehicle safety? Check out the Top 5 Car Safety Features Available in 2015