Think your child’s car seat is installed correctly? Chances are it’s not.
According to safety experts at Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness, nearly nine out of 10 car seats they check are incorrect.
“Not all of the errors are what most people would consider huge,” said Sharon Rengers, R.N., with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness. “But one big error or combined errors can lead to an injury if the vehicle is involved in a crash.”
In recognition of National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 17 to 23, here are the top 10 common car seat mistakes:
Have a pro check your car seat
Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness is offering free car seat checks weekly around Louisville.
- Child not in a booster seat. A regular lap/shoulder belt is designed to fit a child who is at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall. Until then, the child needs to be in a booster seat.
- Toddler/infant in wrong seat.All seats have different weight and height recommendations. Many times, parents put the child in a seat the child is too heavy for.
- Seat is too loose. When installed properly, the car seat should not move more than 1 inch forward or side to side.
- Using aftermarket products. Products that support a baby’s head, get placed under a baby or are placed in the seat with a child were not tested for safety and may interfere with proper seat performance in the event of a crash. It’s always best to avoid using these products.
- Harness straps are coming out of the wrong seat slots.For infants, the straps need to come through the slots that are just below the level of the baby’s shoulders. For forward-facing convertible seats for toddlers, the straps should come through the uppermost slots.
- Child is turned forward facing too early. Children should face the rear of the vehicle until they reach the upper weight limit of their rear-facing seat, or until they are at least 2 years old. Many times parents turn the child toward the front when they reach 20 pounds. If they are not 2 years old, the child’s neck has not yet developed to support the head in the event of a crash. Look at the weight limits of your convertible seats and use it rear-facing to the maximum weight limit, even if your child is over age 2.
- Harness straps are too loose. The harness should be snug — you should not be able to pinch any of the webbing between your fingers.
- Retainer clip is too low. The retainer clip that holds both shoulder straps together against the child’s chest should be level with the child’s armpits.
- Using a seat that is too small.Once a child has reached the upper weight limits of an infant seat, or once the child has gotten so tall that there is less than a hand’s width distance between the child’s head and the top of the seat, it is time to move into a convertible seat that is placed rear facing.
- Using LATCH incorrectly.Many times parents place a seat in the middle of the back seat and use the lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH) located on the sides of the vehicle. The seat should only be used in locations specified by the car manufacturer. And when LATCH is used, there is no need to also use the seatbelts. Instead, buckle the seatbelt, lock it tight and then place the car seat into position.