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Keeping kids safe while they ride in the car can be a tough job, but with car seat safety practices, car seats can save children from harm every day.
Use a car seat every time
It’s tempting to ditch the seat when you have extra passengers in the car or are just riding a few blocks or minutes to your destination. It seems like holding kids on your lap is perfectly safe, but don’t be tempted. It may be that one time you decide to skip it that you have an accident.
Car seats should stay rear-facing as long as possible
Rear-facing car seats for infants are 3 times safer than forward-facing. I know you’d love to look back into the back seat and visit with little Johnny, but his neck muscles just aren’t ready for impact at that angle. Keep him facing rear as long as you can. At the very least, one year of age, some states require two years of age, but longer if there is still room for his legs.
Use a car seat until kids are ages 10-12 whenever is safe for their size
After your child outgrows a regular car seat, they need a booster seat. Getting rid of the booster when kids seem like they’re big enough could be a recipe for disaster. The purpose of a booster seat is to make a child tall enough to allow the seat belts in the vehicle to fit them properly.
I know seat belts can be a pain, I don’t like wearing them either, but I know they will help me in the event of an accident. Booster seats have a height and weight max on the label. Once your child outgrows those maximums, then they are ready for an adult seat belt.
Don’t install a car seat yourself, ask a professional
Professional car seat technicians have safety training to make sure little Sally’s seat will keep her safe. It’s really difficult to get a seat belt tight enough on the seat. There should be no wiggling once the belt is secure. Time and again, when car seat safety checks are made, most seats are not installed properly.
No coats in car seats
It’s tempting to put your kids in the car with their coats on in the winter, but this causes the straps not to fit properly and can also have further consequences. When a car is impacted and the car seat is propelled forward, the child can slip up and out of the straps because of the coat. Remove the coat and secure the child in the car. Then you can place the coat or a blanket over the child if you think it’s too cold in the car.
Keep car seat straps snug and over child’s chest, not abdomen
A big mistake I often see is parents who secure the car seat straps too low. This can allow a baby to slip up and out of the straps in the event of a quick stop or accident. The harness should be snug and centered over the top of the chest.
If the child were to remain in the seat during an impact with the harness over the abdomen, it can cause great danger to their internal organs as well. Keep straps snug and high.
Car seat safety handouts for parents
Print this handout and share with parents to help them remember the steps to safety.
Click here to find out how to find the best infant car seat and the best convertible car seat for your child.