Is Your Child Car Seat Installed Correctly to Prevent Injury in a Winter Weather Collision?

When the roads are covered with ice or snow, motorists are more likely to run into another car or slide off the road, making it critically important to make sure your child safety seat is properly installed to protect your child.

The emphasis must be placed on proper installation because almost three out of four child restraint seats aren’t installed correctly, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Take time to learn what type of seat best suited for your child based on age and size and how to install the seat correctly. The installation may vary, depending on the type of car you drive so review the section of your vehicle owner’s manual about car seat installation. Many states motor vehicle offices offer inspections to make sure car seats are properly installed.

Preventing Fatalities

Car crashes are the number one cause of child deaths nationwide and no matter what time of year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that child safety seats reduce car accident fatalities for infants by 71 percent and 54 percent for toddlers.

For a better understanding of car seat safety, it’s helpful to review the basic seat types:

  • Rear facing car seat: Considered safest for young children, as they are equipped with a harness. In case of a collision, they can cradle the child’s body and move slightly to reduce the stress to the neck and spine.
  • Infant car seats, which are used as carriers also, face the rear only and are designed for newborns and small children. They should never be installed facing forward. Look for a label saying the seat meets motor vehicle safety standards. Babies usually outgrow these portable seats by 8 or 9 months of age
  • Convertible seats can be switched from rear facing to forward facing and come equipped with harness and tether. They are excellent for fast growing children, but for those who grow at a slow rate, they can remain rear facing and provide more protection.
  • All in one seats can be adjusted for rear facing and forward facing positions, since they come with a harness and tether, but they can also be turned into a booster seat as children get bigger.
  • Forward facing seat: These come equipped with a harness and tether that keep children from moving forward in a wreck.
  • Convertible seats, combination seats, and all in one seats can be used in the forward facing position.
  • Booster seats: These allow a seat belt to be positioned properly over the strong part of a child’s body.
  • Booster seats with high backs make the child sit up higher to ensure the seat belts fit over the body correctly, giving support to the neck and head. It is excellent for vehicles not equipped with head rests or high seat backs.
  • Backless booster seats elevate the child to make the seat belts fit correctly, but they don’t provide support for the head and neck, making them suitable for vehicles with head rests.
  • Combination seats provide the child a transition from a forward facing seat equipped with a harness into a booster seat.
  • All in one seats encompass all three types of seats.
  • Seat belts should be positioned across the child’s upper thighs and snugly across the shoulder and chest to keep the child restrained in case of a wreck. Seat belts shouldn’t rest on the stomach or run across the neck or face.

Correct Installation is Key

  • Read your car seat’s instruction manual and the section of your vehicle owner’s manual dealing with installation of car seats. Lower anchors must be used on all seats. If you use a seat belt to secure the child restraint seat, check closely on how your seat belt locks by checking the manual.
  • Put the car seat in your vehicle’s back seat and follow the instruction manual closely.
  • Make sure it is secured tightly. In the event your car slides off an icy road, you don’t want the car seat slide from side to side or forward more than an inch.
  • For forward facing seats with a tether, connect its anchor and tighten it to keep your child’s head from moving too far forward in a wreck.
  • For rear facing seats, ensure it is installed at the proper recline angle. Most are equipped with built in angle guidelines to allow for adjustments.

Check the Child’s Fit

  • Position the harness so straps lie flat on a rear facing seat and forward facing seat and are placed through slots at the shoulders.
  • Buckle the harness and chest clip and tighten so the harness is snug enough that extra material can’t be pinched in the shoulder area.
  • The chest clip should be at the armpit level.
  • Remember, proper installation and fitting is essential to make a child’s seat function correctly.

This post brought to you by Sansone & Lauber

Image originally by Snibban at Wikimedia Commons

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