Car Seat Safety Basics

written by Amanda Peal

Each state varies on car seat laws. Some states only require an infant to be rear-facing until age one and 20 pounds. Others, require them to be two. You should find out which laws come into play when selecting the proper car seat for your infant or toddler; but as a parent, I wanted to know: what do car seat manufacturers recommend? This is what I found, and I hope you’ll find it useful! [Editor’s note: this article is for entertainment, and is not intended as a safety recommendation; you should practice car safety for your child according to law and the recommendations on your car seat.]

Rear-facing seats

We used to think that it was safe enough to keep an infant rear facing only until age one, or the point that they reached twenty pounds. However, studies now show that a child is up to five times safer when kept in a rear-facing seat as long as possible. Car seats have changed a lot in recent years, and children are now often able to remain rear-facing until close to age four. According to the manufacturers, children under the age of two or thirty pounds are not recommended to face forward

Front-facing seats

When you do install a front-facing seat, make sure that the seat does not move more than an inch in any direction. Also be aware of the placement of the straps on your child's seat. When forward facing, make sure that the straps are at or above your child's shoulders. Always remember to check to make sure that the chest clip is in fact at baby's chest. It should be armpit-level: never higher, never lower.

Boosters

Manufacturers recommend that you keep your toddler in a car seat with a five point harness until age four and forty pounds, after which you can transition from the five point harness system to a high back booster with a seat belt.

Accidents

Hopefully you will never be in an accident, but what if you are? This happened recently to us, and the officer on call, as well as the nurses who took care of us, gave me some helpful information about replacing my son’s seat (and properly disposing of his old seat, which was in the car at the time of wreck).

One, even if a child seat appears to be in good condition, always replace it immediately after an accident. Any time a vehicle is traveling faster than five miles per hour and is involved in a crash, the child restraints in the vehicle must be replaced.

Two, most insurance companies will reimburse you for the purchase of a new car seat. In our case, the insurance company required me to send in a copy of the receipt from the new car seat, as well as a photo of the seat involved in the crash that showed the straps cut. This last is to ensure that no one else can use this now-unsafe car seat.

These are just a few tips on car seat safety that I have gathered in my own efforts to keep my littles safe. It is always a good idea to research any car seat before purchase, and make sure that unless you know the history of a car seat; never buy one used. If you’d like more helpful tips, or to ensure your car seat is installed correctly, most local fire and police departments can help you out!


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