I’m late. But in this case it’s better than never.
Last Saturday was National Car Seat Check Saturday. Ever hear of it? I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t until now. And maybe you have but it went in one ear and out the other. Maybe you don’t have kids so you really don’t care. Or you have kids and car seats and think you’ve got it all right. And maybe you do. But maybe you don’t.
I just thought I’d post a little diddy with some car seat tips. Lots of people appear to be miseducated or unaware of these things.
1. The chest clip is a CHEST clip. Not a neck clip. Not a tummy clip.
If the chest clip is too high and you’re in an accident you risk strangling your child.
If the chest clip is too low and you’re in an accident your child very well may be ejected through the straps upward into your vehicle. You also run the risk of doing abdominal damage if your child happens to stay contained in their car seat in an accident.
2. Coats. Coats are to be removed before strapping a child into a car seat.
Sounds a little crazy but it’s true. Lots of car seat manufacturers will tell you this in their manuals. Coats cause the straps to be more loose around the child’s body and because coats are often a slippery material, you, again, run the risk of having your child ejected upward from their car seat in an accident. Here in Minnesota I have a feeling this one gets overlooked quite often. If you’re able, warm up your car first and take the coat off. If you can’t warm the car up take the coat off, get your child in their seat, and put their coat on backwards on top of the straps. It’s also easier for a child to adjust their temperature when the extra layers on the outside. It probably gets pretty uncomfortable in warm being wedged into a car seat with a giant winter coat once the car has warmed up.
3. Extended rear facing is SIGNIFICANTLY safer than forward facing.
I see all kinds of reasons that parents want to turn their kids around as soon as possible. Easier to see them, the child prefers it that way, better view, easier to hand them snacks, etc. etc. But the facts are (rf vs ff): 50kg neck loads in a 30 mph crash vs 300kg neck loads. WOW. 8% risk of severe injury vs 40% risk. AH. 96% injury reducing effect vs 77% injury reducing effect. It is FIVE times safer for children under 4 year to be rear facing. FIVE TIMES.
Here is some super great info.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.”
We purchased the Diono Radian which has one of the highest rear facing allowances. Sure, legs begin to get a little cramped in the back but there are very very very few instances of injured legs in a car crash. You know how when you stop quickly or are in an accident your neck sticks out in front of you and maybe even gets hurt? When rear facing the car seat absorbs that force, isn’t that great? Honestly I think all passengers should rear face.. why not?! High speed very damaging rear end accidents that are bad enough to injure a child’s legs when rear facing are rare – accidents involving the force stopping in front of the vehicle are extremely common.
4. Make sure the car seat is installed well.
Seems like a no brainer but wiggle the seat back and forth.. if it gives a lot it’ll give a heck of a lot more in a car crash. And check it every once in a while in case the belt loosens. People make a big stink about car seats being difficult to install.. we’ve had two different kinds and I could probably install them with my eyes closed. It’s kind of like putting on a seat belt. Or a belt. So give it a try and use some elbow grease to make sure it’s tight. Basically just make sure you do it super tight and if you’re not confident get a second opinion. Any fire station will be gladly to give you assistance.
5. The child’s straps should be tight.
If you can pinch the straps they are too loose. An accident with exert more force than you. You don’t want there to be any chance at all that your child will budge or be ejected from their seat. You also don’t want them to be able to wiggle and arm out.. this is a big red flag that they would like come out in an accident.
6. Children under 12 should be in the backseat.
No matter what kids under 12 should be in the backseat. It’s way safer. I saw a carseat for a kiddo Olive’s age in the front of a truck the other day. So scary.
7. Don’t forget the booster seat.
Booster seats are very important. If a child is under 4’9″ they are likely not big enough to use only the lap and shoulder belts without a booster. The booster helps put the belts into the correct location so they secure the child and do not cause major damage to their neck and abdominal organs in an accident. Lap belt should never be on the tummy and the shoulder belt should never be across the neck.
8. Don’t forget the expiration date.
This one stinks.. but car seats expire. The foam, strap material, and plastic all break done. This is especially true when in a hot/cold car every single day for years. You don’t want to risk that these things will not absorb impact or that something may actually come apart during a very bad accident. You’re also supposed to replace car seats after accidents. Check with your manufacturer for specific speed allowances. Some manufacturers will replace the seat for free if your vehicle is totalled. Helps a little..
9. Don’t submerge the straps.
Who knew?! Regardless of what terribly gross thing happens to the straps of your car seat DO NOT submerge the straps to clean them. This loosens the fibers thus severely impacting the integrity. You don’t want to risk that.
Well… those are 9 things I came up with off the top of my head. Hope it helps someone! :)