Not only is keeping your child in a car seat the law, but it’s incredibly crucial to your child’s safety while they are out and about in the car. It’s true that the car seat laws and regulations change so often that it’s hard to keep up with recalls and front facing, rear facing, and weight limits -- but it is a necessity of being a parent to be sure that the car seat your children are riding in, conform to the most recent safety standards.
Here are three areas us parents often slack in when it comes to car seat safety.
1. Use An Older Car Seat
It’s so imperative that you purchase a brand new car seat every time that your child upgrades by their weight. I know it seems cheaper and easier to pick one up from a yard sale or use a hand-me-down from a family member, but because safety regulations change so rapidly, even a car seat from two years ago is outdated and considered unsafe by your state’s regulations.
Using an older car seat has many concerns:
* plastic becomes brittle as it ages, so a car seat that’s even a few years old has the potential to break or malfunction should an accident occur
* the car seat could be missing parts or harnesses for seat belts
* no manufacturer's instructions
* it could have been involved in an accident without your knowledge if you purchased it at a yard sale or it was a hand-me-down
* it could have recalls on it that you’re unaware of due to its age
* it could be not up to par with current safety regulations
If you plan on using an older car seat, please have it inspected by your local police department and do your own research both online and offline to ensure that it meets your state’s current safety laws.
2. Turning Your Child To Face Forward Too Soon
It’s tempting to want your child to face frontward so that you can see them better while you’re driving, but the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that children are to remain in rear-facing car seats until the age of two.
This is because our children have considerably less muscle in their neck than we do, thus opening the door for serious injuries in the event an accident should occur while they’re in the car. Keeping them facing the rear, helps lessen the impact from a front-end collision.
3. Not Installing Car Seats Correctly
What good is your child’s car seat if it isn’t installed correctly? If you aren’t sure how to properly install a car seat -- there’s always help available at your local police station. You don’t have to call ahead, it won’t cost you anything, and it won’t take but ten minutes of your time.
Simply drive into any police station and ask that an officer come out and not only show you how to properly install your child’s car seat, but also check to be sure that the seat is installed correctly before you pull away from the station.
By having the officer show you how to properly install the car seat, you’ll have first hand experience at installing it yourself should you have to bounce it from car to car.
* Always be on the alert for car seat recalls in case your child’s is on the list.
* Be aware of your state’s laws concerning car seat safety so that your family will always have the safest car seats to ensure their well being.