This week is Child Passenger Safety week, and I hope to help clear up some confusion that comes with choosing the safest seat for your children. Did you know that car accidents are the leading cause of death in children from 1 to 13 years? Yikes! that is a scary thought, and a majority of the deaths could be prevented by education on choosing the right car seat for your child and correct installation. Please refer to this great infographic below (courtesy of http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov) on choosing the right car seat for your child.
As I mentioned earlier, once you have chosen the proper car seat for your child, it is also important to get that bad boy installed correctly so it can protect your precious cargo. A popular response (and an easy one) is to simply take your car seat to a local police or fire department for installation. Beware of this option, although there are many in the field who know what they are doing, there are just as many that do not. One of the biggest recommendations that I learned at a recent Gearapalooza, was be informed. Read your car seat safety and installation guide, even if you plan on going to a local fire or police department, read your manual and watch them install. The more eyes during installation, the more mistakes can be caught and corrected. To be earnest, if you have read your safety and installation manual thoroughly, you really will KNOW just as much (or more) as any fire or police person who may have been certified…especially if they were certified before YOU were born! Be informed, be confident and know that you can always call that handy 1-800 number for your car seat and the operator will gladly help with your seat installation.
Always, always follow weight restrictions before considering the length of a child. Most infant carriers max out at a certain weight, so follow this weight NOT how long your child looks in the seat. Until your infant weighs too much for the seat, they are NOT too big for it. Another big trend in car seat safety is to STAY rear facing, even extending past 2 years old (which is the required age according to most car seats today). This is because of the neck development of your precious babes. Babies neck bones are not completely developed or strong enough before 3 years old to withstand the impact of an accident and support their head being flung forward by the force of it. Please, I earnestly ask for the safety of your littles, keep them rear facing as long as possible, but definitely at least until they are 2 years of age.
Last, but not least, there are two things that you should always remember when buying a car seat. Number one: check the expiration date. No, the seat will not implode or fall apart the minute the expiration date passes, but those dates are placed on car seats because the safety technology and advances in safer seats change so rapidly that after 5-6 years, seats will be less safe than new ones on the market. Be mindful of expiration dates. Number two: NEVER NEVER NEVER buy a used car seat! You cannot guarantee that a used car seat has not been in a car accident and the moment that a car seat has been in an accident (even a minor one) the safety mechanisms have been activated and that seat is no longer safe, which is why car insurance companies will replace any car seat that has been involved in an accident. I am sure that if I am ever at a second-hand store or garage sale, I inform the seller that it is not okay for used car seats to be sold. If you are looking for a return on the seat you have invested so much in, most big box children stores offer trade ins with a certain percentage toward another purchase.
Let’s stay informed and safe to help keep our kiddos as safe as possible! For more information or for a certified car seat safety check in your area please go to Parents Central.