New parents who want to keep their little one safe and sound as you get from point A to point B need to learn about the risks their children face while in a motor vehicle. Once you understand these risks you can better protect them against injury or death when a car crash inevitably happens. Check out a few car seat safety tips below and learn what mistakes you should avoid when using a car seat.
The Cold Hard Truth about Car Seat Safety
According to the Center for Disease Control in the United States, injuries from motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for young children. In the U.S. alone, more than 120,000 children ages 12 years old or younger suffered injuries during a crash in 2014 and more than 650 died in car crashes in 2015. 35% of the children who died in a car crash during 2015 were not buckled up at all. Finally, in a study from 2010, they discovered that despite all these risks more than 618,000 children between the ages of 1 day to 12 years regularly rode in a vehicle without a car seat, booster seat, or even a seat belt.
Should I Buy a Used Car Seat?
Buying a car safety seat can greatly reduce and almost eliminate these risks, but not if you cannot guarantee the seat will function as it should. Although buying pre-owned can be a great way to save money on certain items before your child arrives, other items should never be purchased second hand. Experts generally recommend that you buy a new car seat for your child rather than picking up a used one from someone you do not know.
When you buy a secondhand car seat, you cannot be completely sure of important aspects of its history like whether it has been involved in a previous crash, the manufacturer’s expiration date on the labels or in the manual, and the current recall status of that particular brand. Buying new means you never need to worry about tracking down this vital information.
The Six Biggest Mistakes New Parents Make When Using a Car Seat
#1. Putting the Car Seat in the Front Seat
Never put a car seat in the front passenger seat of your vehicle. If you do experience a collision, the airbags will deploy and can gravely harm your child.
#2. Putting the Car Seat Behind the Front Seats
Although it seems intuitive that placing your child’s car seat behind either the driver or passenger seat would offer them more protection in case of a crash, this does not seem to be the case. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2008 revealed that the rear middle seat is the safest position for infants and toddlers aged 0-3 years old in a car seat. The study found a child placed in that center rear position should have a 43% lower risk of injury during a crash than if they were on the sides.
#3. Turning the Car Seat Around Too Early
To lower your child’s risk of injury, always keep infants under 20 pounds facing towards the rear in their car seat. Once they reach about 1 year old or weigh over 20-22 pounds, they can start to face forward. You should try to keep them rear facing as long as possible, however, since it will prevent more leg injuries if you do end up crashing. When in doubt, read the owner’s manual that came with the seat.
#4. Making the Harness Too Tight or Loose
The harness should not fit too tight or too loose on your child. A proper fit allows you to place one finger between the harness and your child.
#5. Not Tethering a Forward-Facing Car Seat
Once you do turn your child’s car seat around to face the front, keep them extra safe by tethering the seat. Secure the top of the car seat by anchoring I to the back of your vehicle with a rope or belt. It helps minimize how far your child’s head moves in case of a crash and prevent whiplash or brain injury.
#6. Forgetting the Car Seat While on Vacation
Never forget to bring a car seat with you if you plan to drive with your child in the car on a vacation. Many travel-friendly car seats exist and some even are designed to fit into taxis or on planes.
You can also use Parenting Pod’s informative infographic to help avoid common mistakes.