Whether you’re a new parent or an old hand at keeping children safe, these 10 child safety car seat tips will help you to make sure that you are getting the most out of your child’s car seat. While the seat itself offers some protection, there are some things that need to be considered before using a child car seat.
Research the seat: Though car seats made in the United States are held up to specific standards, there are recalls from time to time. A flaw in the manufacturing can cause lots of problems with the car seat. Research your car seat to see if there are any recalls on the seat itself.
Buy new: While we all want to save money, buying a new car seat instead of a used one can save you some hassles. Safety guidelines change constantly. If you buy a new seat you are not only assured that the current safety guidelines are being used, but you are also assured that it has never been used, broken or modified in any way.
Follow weight guidelines: Child safety laws are there to guide us as we try to protect our children. Laws may vary from state to state as to how long a child should be in a car seat or booster seat. These laws are based on age and weight.
Use the backseat: Children should be in the back seat for safety reasons. Most cars now have airbags. These can kill a child if they are hit with one. Make sure your child is in the backseat to avoid this problem. If the child must sit in the front, such as if you are driving a pickup truck, be sure to turn the airbags off.
Face the back: Make sure that infants are facing backwards, at least up until they are a year old. This protects them from being thrown or having flying objects hit them if there is an accident.
Check the straps: Be sure that the straps on the cars seat are not tangled and that all the latches are working properly. Seat belt straps that hold the car seat in place should also not be tangled or twisted. Why is this so important? Consider the following scenario: There is an accident. The car is on fire. You cannot get your child out because the strap is twisted and cannot be released. Just avoid this scenario by untangling the straps.
Do the finger test: To make sure that the straps are snug on your child, try to fit two fingers between the strap of the child safety car seat and the child. This amount of room allows them the freedom to move around a bit while still fitting snugly enough for safety.
Keep your child within arms reach: As you sit in the front seat, try to reach your child. You should be able to touch the seat so that if there is an accident you are able to reach the child and get them to safety.
Plan for the worst: Keep a knife or a tool made just for cutting seat belts. The tool should have a curved end so that it can grip and cut the strap if need be. Keep this tool in your glove box so that it is not a potential flying object in the event that there is an accident. Use this tool to cut the straps of the seat belt or child safety car seat straps if the child needs to be removed in an emergency.
Don’t create your own problems: It may be convenient to allow your child to snack while they are in the car seat, but what do you do if they choke? Though you may be able to reach them, it’s pretty difficult to do any kind of choking maneuver if you are driving and the child is strapped in their seat. Parents should also make sure the child doesn’t have any loose toys, but may have something attached to the seat to keep them busy, such as items that came with the set for that purpose.