We grandparents are doing everything in our power to catch up and keep up with the latest in safety for our grandkids, but one area that still seems to evade us and the parents is the proper installation of car seats..
By Allana Pinkerton
Most car seats are unknowingly installed wrong. In fact, according to SafeKids Worldwide, 73% of car seats are either not used or not installed correctly. There are various factors behind this statistic. Most people do not read the manual or misunderstand what the instructions state. Also, there is a misconception that car crashes only happen on the highway, however they actually happen close to home and parents may not buckle up their kids because they think, “what can possibly happen?”
One common mistake is not installing the car seat tight enough. The car seat needs to be tight enough that it moves less than one inch side-to-side and back-to-front when checked at the belt path. Be sure to know how your seat belt locks. If you install the seat with the LATCH connectors, find the designated lower anchors for that seating position. Follow all instructions carefully in both the car seat and vehicle manuals.
The 5 point harness needs to be properly adjusted. Unlike the seat belt, which will retract and help restrain your body during a crash, the harness needs to start out with a snug fit against the child’s body. The harness does not have to be really tight, just snug enough that you cannot pinch the webbing at the collar bone.
Most parents realize their child is growing up way too fast and they want to stop time, yet they still rush them into the next car seat or out of a booster seat too soon. Keeping a child rear-facing is five times safer. Even if their legs are long and hitting the back of the seat, they are still safe. Once they’ve reached the rear-facing capacity of their car seat, facing them forward in the 5-point harness helps spread the crash forces over the strongest parts of the body. Belt-positioning booster seats keep older kids safer in the adult seat belt.
Most, if not all unintentional child deaths and injuries can be prevented. It takes time, energy, effort, and consistency, but in the end, it is worth saving the lives of our precious future.
Allana has been a Certified CPS Technician for over 10 years. She became passionate about the issue out of concern for her own children’s safety on school buses. She has worked to instruct and present to others about the danger of not properly installing and utilizing car seats and seat buckles. She has worked in children’s hospitals and at community events with companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and State Farm. She has been actively involved with the Annual Kidz in Motion CPS Conference, and in 2013 was elected to Chair the Manufacturer’s Alliance for Child Passenger Safety. Currently, Allana also serves as the Global Safety Advocate for Diono