Thousands of children are injured or killed every year by car seats that are not installed or children are not fastened properly. Most accidents occur within one mile from home, so matter how short the trip please take the time to be sure your child is properly restrained and the car seat is installed properly.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released new safety guidelines back in 2011 that they advise parents to keep toddler in rear-facing seats as long as possible. Many parents choose to turn the car seat around on or around the child's first birthday. Now it is until age two or until the child's weight exceeds the limitation of the car seat. It has been found that children under age 2 are 75% less likely to die or become seriously injured if rear facing. Also in a separate study, found rear-facing 5 times safer than forward facing. Keep your toddler rear facing at least until age two or until weight exceeds the car seat limitation.
Safest location for car seat: The middle section of the rear seat has been proven to be the safest place for car seats. It also allows easy access from either the passenger or driver side. The second safest place it the driver side of the vehicle and coming in last is the passenger side. Install the car seat, whether forward or rear facing in the middle of the back seat.
Never buy a used car seat: First all car seats have an expiration date - usually 6 years after manufacture. Never use a car seat that is expired or has missing parts. If you purchase a used car seat you will not know if there are any missing parts or if it has been involved in an automobile accident. All of these things compromise the reliability of the seat. Think about how other plastic toys or chairs that may be exposed to different temperatures (hot or cold) break down, dry out etc., car seats are the same way.
Read the manual: Picking the wrong seat for your child's age, height or weight can be a very dangerous mistake. Take time to review the manufacturer guidelines for each seat. Just because the seat may look the same as another does not mean it has the same weight and height limitations. Read the reviews and instructions available online before you purchase to be sure it will meet your safety requirements.
Installing the car seat: Installing a car seat can be tricky business, again take the time to read the manual for the car and the car seat. The new cars have the latch system that can be used up to a certain weight safely. Others require the seat belt. Some of the most common mistakes are routing the seat belt incorrectly, connecting the latch system to the wrong points in the car, forgetting to use the tether at all, and not putting enough weight on the seat as it is being installed. After you have installed your car seat, please have a professional check to be sure your seat is installed properly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a website where you can find a Child Car Seat Inspection Station. Click the underlined link to find a location near you.
Be sure to have the straps properly fastened and tightened: The chest clip is just that a chest clip it should be directly across the front of the child's chest. The straps should be snug. A good test is to try to pinch the fabric of the strap once it is secure, if you can pinch fabric it is not secure. It should however not be so tight that it is digging into the child's body. Here is a location on the internet that offers great tips for properly securing your child in the seat.
Lastly, New York Occupant Restraint Law require the following: (This and more information regarding NYS Law can be found by clicking here.
New York's Occupant Restraint laws require the following:
Children up to the age of 4 must be properly restrained in a federally approved child safety seat that is attached to a vehicle by a seat belt or universal child restraint anchorage (LATCH) system.
Children less than age 4 but weighing more than 40 poundsmay be restrained in a booster seat with a lap/shoulder safety belt. However, a child safety seat that accommodates higher weights can be used.
Children ages 4, 5, 6 and 7 must be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system, one for which the child meets the height and weight recommendations of the child restraint manufacturer.*
An appropriate child restraint system is one that meets the child's size and weight recommended by the manufacturer.
A vehicle's safety belt is NOT a child restraint system.
Children riding in booster seats must be secured with a combination lap/shoulder seat belt, NEVERsecure a child in a booster seat with only a lap belt.
From the age of 8 until they reach their 16th birthday, children must be restrained in a seat belt whenever they ride in a vehicle. All Front seat passengers must be properly restrained at all times, regardless of age.
Children 12 years and younger should ride in the back seat. By simply buckling up your child in the back seat reduces his/her risk of death by 33%.
*It is recommended that booster seats be used until your child is 4 foot 9 inches tall or weighs 100 pounds.
There is much more information you need to be aware of when purchasing, installing and using a car seat, please read all instructions carefully.
If you have questions or need more information please feel free to contact me.