Buckling precious passengers in car seats alone is not enough. According to the NHTSA, three out of four car seats are used incorrectly. That means 75% of drivers assume their kids in car seats are safe, when odds are they’re not.
Certified child passenger safety technician Mohammad Bhorat reminds loving parents and caretakers proper installation and use of child restraint systems each and every time is absolutely a must. With winter road conditions looming, Mohammad advices additional winter car seat precautions to keep children safe. With his help, we’ve broken them down into six, easy-to-follow tips.
1. If you’re installing a car seat yourself, read both the seat manual and your vehicle manual.
It’s important that your child’s car seat is compatible with your vehicle; that you place the specific model you purchased in the safest position possible for the car that you have; that you know which tethers, anchors, etc. to use. Or you can always have the seat installed by a certified child passenger safety technician. If not, reading both manuals is necessary for a proper installation.75% of drivers assume their kids in car seats are safe, when odds are they're not. Click To Tweet
2. Make sure the car seat harness strap height is adjusted.
If your child has had a growth spurt lately, check the harness strap height on the car seat. For rear-facing, the straps should be at or below the shoulders. And for forward-facing, the straps should be at or above.
3. Never put bulky clothing UNDER car seat straps.
A. Bulky clothes like winter coats and snowsuits will compress in a crash, leaving dangerous wiggle room between your child and the straps that are meant to keep him or her in the car seat. That compromises the whole function of the safety straps, allowing the possibility of ejections from the car seat. B. Children can become overheated in their car seats, especially with the combination of heat in the car, bulky clothing, and the confined space of their restraint systems.
It’s better to remove bulky clothing; buckle them into the seat, then place it over them if they’re cold; you can always remove it again if they get warm. There is also a car seat-safe coat called the Cozywoggle that allows you to buckle the straps under the coat, then zip it back over the straps. It was invented by a safety-conscious mom.
4. Make sure the car seat chest clip is at armpit level.
It is not sufficient to merely snap the chest clip. It is meant to keep the harness straps from opening enough to allow children from slipping through in a collision. If the clip is at their navel, those straps can slip off their shoulders in the force of a crash. Just remember chest clip belongs over the chest.
5. Snug car seat straps are safe straps.
And loose straps leave gaps! The main complaint with keeping straps snug is a child’s level of comfort. The kids are fine, really. Just think how uncomfortable they would be if your car was hit while their straps were loose. Keep them snug every time you drive. How snug? Tighten them until you can fit only one of your fingers between the straps and your child’s collar bone.
6. Get your child’s car seat inspected.
Find a local certified child passenger safety technician that offers free booster and car seat checks and just get it done. It’s important, it’s free, and it will offer you peace of mind and your child maximum safety in the car. Be sure the technician is certified like those at Baby Car Seat Installers (they service the GTA, but please make an effort to find someone near you).
If you found these car seat tips helpful, please pass them on to help spread child passenger safety awareness!