This post is sponsored by BRITAX. As part of the Britax Latina Advisory Board, I often share my own adventures and safety tips. All opinions and stories are my own, of course. Check out my posts on car seat safety and getting your kids to buckle up with no fuss!
Important Car Seat Safety Tips
The Federal Government estimates that up to 85% of car seats are installed improperly. Even more frightening is the fact that car accidents are the #1 killer of children under age 12.
Why? Because children are not being properly secured into vehicles. It’s crucial to know how to properly install your car safety seats and properly buckle your children in to protect their lives.
Listed here are four things that every parent should know about car seat safety that could save your child’s life.
#1 Make sure that the seat that you use is the right one for your child’s age, height and weight.
If you’re using the wrong type of seat, your child will not be protected when it really counts! You’ll also want to do a bit of research before deciding and test out the store’s display model to be sure of a proper fit for your child. Make sure your child fits comfortably in the seat with room to grow. The child’s head should be at least 1″ below the top of the seat’s hard shell. Straps should be adjusted to rest at their shoulders, untwisted and not loose. A good rule of thumb…if you can pinch any extra slack in the straps between your fingers, they’re too loose. See the video links at the bottom of this post for more information on choosing a car seat and other safety tips.
Watch car seat safety videos from MonkeySee.com
You can also fit your child to the correct car seat by using tools like the one at BritaxUSA.com: http://www.britaxusa.com/car-seats/fit-my-child
Four things to consider when selecting a car seat:
- Your child’s age
- Your child’s height
- Your child’s weight
- Your child’s seated shoulder height
A 5-Point Harness System is recommended for all children until they reach 4′ 9″ tall (about age 8-12), the minimum required height for safely riding in a motor vehicle with traditional seat belt.
#2 Check the expiration date.
Most car seats have a shelf life of 5 years. It’s important to retire a car seat after it’s expiration date because of the natural deterioration of it’s internal parts and gears. In a car accident the intense impact can cause anything to go wrong and old parts to fail. Don’t take that risk with your child, it’s just not worth it! Expiration dates are there for a reason, so trust your manufacturer and dispose of it. Call your local police or fire department for more information on disposal of expired car seats.
Car seat expiration date
#3 Never install a car seat in your front seat.
Air bags pose a tremendous risk of harm to your children because both car seats and infants are not equipped to handle the impact. Whenever possible, seat your child in the middle of the backseat, away from the doors. This ensures that in a side accident, your child will be as far away from the crash impact area as possible and less likely to sustain injuries.
Airbag Hazzard credit HealthyChildren.org
#4 Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible!
The laws state that you can move your child to a forward-facing car seat as early as 12 months or 20 lbs. But, safety experts strongly caution parents against moving their children to a forward facing seat before they reach a minimum of 24 months and 35 lbs. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics also began as advising parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2.
Children seated in forward-facing car seats are 5 times more likely to be severely injured in car crashes. This is because in a forward-facing car seat, the child’s body is kept in place by the seat’s harness while their head, arms and legs are left unprotected and can be thrown forward violently during the impact of a crash. This can cause serious shoulder and neck injuries, even internal decapitation. Young children are especially vulnerable to these types of injuries because the muscles in their necks are not developed enough to protect their spinal cord during a crash impact.
A rear-facing seat cradles the child’s head, neck and shoulders from the impact, preventing these injuries and keeping infants and toddlers safe. In Europe some countries have laws requiring children to be rear-facing until age 4 or 55 lbs. It seems more and more parents are taking note of the risk involved in forward-facing your child too soon. Accordingly, manufacturers are now creating more options for rear-facing seats that accommodate toddlers ages two and up.
- CarSeat.org – A wealth of information about car seat safety! This is a plain looking website, but it’s the absolute BEST resource out there for car seat safety and it features a lot of information that many sites don’t offer. In fact all the safety videos below were created by CarSeat.org associates. You’ll even find travel safety instructions for using your car seats on the airplane!
- Car-Safety.org – Another great resource! This website may look dull, but it’s one of the best resources out there. It’s definitely worth a thorough reading!
- SeatCheck.org – Want to know where you can go for a FREE car seat check and safety course? This link will find a location near you!
- CDC – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t just for vaccines anymore. Their website offers a huge amount of information on driving safe too!
- NHTSA – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives you tips to keep your family safe on the road. This link directs you to there page for car seat safety (CPS).
Watch car seat safety videos from MonkeySee.com
The Britax Hispanic Digital and Social Media Outreach is in partnership with Mami Innovative Media.