To add on to our previous list of car seat safety tips, we’ve included 5 more items to keep in mind for your child’s safety.
6. BACK IS BEST
Children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat. If your vehicle has a back seat, your child should be riding in it. The airbags located in the front of the vehicle can kill young children when they deploy. The force of the airbag being released combined with the forward excursion of the child’s head and neck during a collision can cause severe or lethal injury.
7. DON’T RUSH MILESTONES
Teaching our children to walk, talk, read, and write are exciting things and we want to celebrate those wonderful milestones with you. One milestone we’re OK waiting for is graduating your child to the next step in car seat safety before they are physically ready for it.
Rear facing should occur until the child has either maxed out the rear facing weight limit of their convertible car seat or their head has come within one inch of the top of the shell. Buying a convertible seat designed to be used rear facing for larger children will help you hold off on moving on from this stage a little longer.
Forward facing with a 5 point harness should occur until the child has become too tall or too heavy for the harness straps according to the manual. Purchasing a forward facing only seat should be your next step once a convertible seat has been outgrown in the forward facing position.
Booster seats should not be used until a child is mature enough to sit with a proper seat belt fit the whole ride. Three and four year olds do not belong in boosters. Once a child is old enough for the booster, he or she should remain in one until they can pass the 5 steps for seat belt readiness. We know that simply because the law many only require it until a certain age, weight, or height doesn’t always mean that is provides the safest circumstances for our children. *Booster seats should ONLY be used when a lap and shoulder belt are both in use. When the lap belt is the only thing securing a child in a booster, it elevates the risk of injury.
8. JUST SAY NO TO: AFTERMARKET PRODUCTS, WINTER COATS, & SHOPPING CARTS
An aftermarket product is anything that could be added onto, into, or around the seat that did not come with the car seat itself. Aftermarket products are unsafe because they have not been crash tested with your child’s seat and can pose a potential hazard such as the child becoming ejected from the seat or an item becoming a projectile within the vehicle.
There are a few exceptions for products that are manufactured by the same brand as your child’s seat but you could call the manufacturer to inquire specifically if the items have been crash tested together.
Padded car seat straps, additional head padding, toys hanging on the bar, car seat covers, mirrors on head rests, suction cup shades on windows, and padded seat protectors are all examples of after market products that can pose a safety threat to your child in the event of a car accident.
Winter coats that are bulky prevent children from being secured properly with a tight harness. In a collision, the force applied by the harness to the coat can compress enough air that the straps become loose enough for your child to be ejected from their seat.
Instead, place a light fleece onto the child and wrap them in their coat or blanket for carrying outside to the car. Once inside, take the coat or blanket off and secure the child with only the light fleece on. After the child is secure you can cover them up with their blanket or coat outside of the straps.
When shopping with your little one, it may seem tempting to click the infant carrier right on top of the seat where a child would usually sit. It clicks so it’s safe, right? WRONG!
The click that you hear is the mechanism that is designed to secure the seat into the base that remain in your car. The other side of the seat is unlocked and could flip the seat backwards if it were to tip. It also can damage the locking mechanism to clip it into things it was not designed to lock into. The added weight of the seat and the child alters the center of gravity of the cart and it can topple over more easily potentially harming your child.
Great alternatives are to wear your baby in a carrier while shopping, use a cart that has an infant restraint attached, place the baby and their car seat in the basket portion, or have a helper come along and push the stroller.
(photo of car seat on shopping cart)
9. TRAVEL SAFELY ON AIRPLANES
Although the FFA has not yet made it mandatory, it IS safest to fly with children in their own seat with a proper restraint system. For infants and small toddlers - rear facing, for older toddler – forward facing in a harness, booster age children should NOT use a booster on an airplane – the lap belt only is fine.
Most accidents happen during landing and take off when the plane is moving at a very high speed. When a child is being held on a parent’s lap, they can become projectiles inside the aircraft if a sudden deceleration or collision occurs. They may also become the parent’s airbag between the seat in front of them and the adult holding them.
It is also unsafe to check car seats due to the handling of luggage before, during, and after a flight. Enough damage can occur to render you car seat unsafe to use in a vehicle.
Simply put; your child’s life is worth the cost of their own seat. It’s not an extra seat.
10. DOUBLE CHECK EVERY TIME
Before you head out on each trip, double check these things:
· Rear facing children should have straps come AT or BELOW shoulder level
· Forward facing children should have straps come AT or ABOVE shoulder level
· Harness straps should be tight enough that the pinch test over their shoulders renders no material pinched.
· Chest clips should be placed at nipple/arm pit level.
· Seat should not move more than one inch along the belt path.
· Infant seats should be secured into their bases.
· All passengers are buckled up correctly.
· Loose items are secured to prevent them from becoming projectiles.
Whenever you have a question or want to ensure proper installation, find a local CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) and get an expert’s opinion. We have CPSTs on staff and would be honored to assist you as you ensure the safest possible transportation for your family.
We certainly hope your family never has to experience a car crash, as even small collisions can be quite scary. However, if you are, follow these tips:
· Pull over to the side of the road if possible and call 911 to get assistance
· Check for injuries to know if an ambulance is also needed
· All airbags deployed need replaced
· All seatbelts in use at time of collision need replaced
· All car seats installed, whether in use or not, need replaced
· File your insurance claim with the information on the car seats in need of replacement
We hope these tips will be useful in keeping you and your family safe when traveling. Our Intown Atlanta families mean the world to us and we want the very best for you all.