Is Your Car Seat Installed Correctly?
How confident are you in your car seat installation skills?
A recent article in The New York Times highlights a startling statistic: about 3 out of 4 car seats are installed improperly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And here’s something else I didn’t know: car crashes are the leading cause of death for children 13 and younger.
I suppose this really strikes a chord with me because we don’t drive very often, but when we do, I always feel slightly unsure as we’re installing car seats in a rental car. We’ve tried several car seat brands over the years, and while I pull out the instruction manual each time, I’m always afraid that it won’t be perfect.
Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, an associate professor at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portand, Oregon, has been a child passenger safety technician instructor since 1997. He says, “The fact that somewhere around three-quarters of all seats are installed incorrectly means there’s something that is being missed. People figure it’s a car seat, how hard can it be?”
Major improvements began with the latch system in 2000. Simply using only the seat belt is not good enough — experts say a car seat can move much farther forward during a collision if it is installed using only a seat belt and the top of the seat is not secured. Dr. Alisa Baer, a New York pediatrician who’s otherwise known as “The Car Seat Lady,” shares this information: “There’s a high likelihood that the child’s head is going to move forward enough that they might hit the back of the seat in front of them, which is a setup for brain and spinal injuries.”
Don’t leave anything to chance — visit your local fire station or police department to have someone install or double check your work, or check out Safe Kids Worldwide. The organization offers comprehensive information on car seat safety on their website, and even better, hosts car seat inspection events all over the country (find an event near you).
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