Safe Riding – Proper Car Seat Usage
Tips for Car Seat Usage
If you are a first time parent or even a second, third, or fourth time parents, installing a car seat in your car can be one of the more confusing and frustrating aspects of parenting. The risks if the seat isn’t in safely in your car are so great that it can cause hours of worry and frustration for expecting parents. Here are some tips to help you properly install your car seat and keep your child safe.
1. Always read the manual for the car seat.
Expecting parents tend to be excited with the purchase of a car seat and often skip the most important part of installation, the reading of the manual. Each car seat is different and none work exactly like the other. Some seats have bases that you attach the seat to and the manual will have specifications on how to install that properly. Other seats have weight restrictions (like some aren’t appropriate for an infant under five pounds). When purchasing a car seat it’s important to read the manual fully so that you have an understanding of the different features for the seat so that your child is safe while in the car.
2. Read your vehicle manual on car installation.
In addition to the manual for the car seat it is a good idea to read the manual for your car to see how they recommend car seat installation. Often times there are tricks and tips that your car seat manual will not have in it to help you install the car seat properly. For instance some cars require you to recline the seat (if you’re installing in a vehicle such as a van) and latch the seat in tightly then put the seat back into it’s normal position which secures the seat tightly. Also the manual should recommend which position in the car is best for a car seat as well as how to disable features of the car if needed so your child can remain safe.
3. Make sure to buckle your child safely into the seat.
No matter whether the car seat is an infant seat or a convertible/booster seat you should always buckle your child in correctly. Make sure the straps of the harness are tight. There should be no give. You don’t want to suffocate your child, but you don’t want them to be able to move forward should an accident happen. If you don’t need to loosen the straps to put your child in and take them out, then the straps aren’t tight enough. If you aren’t adjusting the straps each time you put your child in, then it’s probable that the straps are not tight enough. Also make sure the chest plate is in the proper positions. The manual for the car seat will explain where the chest plate should rest (on the upper chest typically).
4. Monitor your child’s weight and height.
Children will outgrow their car seats and it’s important to track their growth and height and switch seats when appropriate. Leaving a child who is too big for a certain type of car seat is dangerous. Switch to a new seat when needed. You can speak with your pediatrician if not sure your child has outgrown the seat and they should be able to help you or you can speak with a child safety seat specialist who will help you.
5. Get your car seat checked.
Many areas have free car safety seat checks that you can take your car and car seat to and they’ll let you know if it’s installed properly. Local fire departments, police stations, and even hospitals have these types of programs. Taking your seat to one of these places will ease your mind and get you any help you may need on keeping your child safe.
These tips as well as other research will help you provide the safest environment in your car for your child. Car Seat installation and usage is confusing but it doesn’t have to be. There is always help if needed. Then you can rest assured that your child is safe.