According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages one to 13. Proper usage of a car seat is an important way to keep your child safe while in the car. Here are some tips for proper car seat safety.
Use the right kind of car seat
The proper car seat for your child depends on several factors including age, size, and vehicle type. The American Academy of Pediatrics has several tips on how to choose and install the right kind of car seat for your child, including a handy at-a-glance guide.
Keep your child rear-facing until at least age two
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you keep your child rear-facing until at least age two, or until they are the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of your car seat. Rear-facing seats provide the most protection for your young child’s head, neck, and spine.
Have the car seat checked after installation
After installing your new car seat for the first time, you may want some additional assurance that everything is set up correctly. A certified inspector can check that your child’s car seat is installed correctly, and this service is often free of charge. You can find your nearest child car seat inspector here.
Check for an expired car seat
Though child car seats last for several years, they do have expiry dates, and it’s best to make sure that you stay within that date. An expired car seat can become brittle and unsafe for your child. You can often find the expiry date on the label of the seat, or on the seat itself. If you are unable to find the date, the manufacturer will have that information for you.
Don’t use a car seat that’s been in an accident
Even if there is no visible damage to your child’s car seat, it can still be unsafe if it’s been in the car when an accident took place. In an accident, a car seat can absorb some of the force of the crash, thereby weakening the structure. It’s best to replace a car seat if you have been in a car accident, even if it visually appears to be safe.
By choosing the right kind of car seat that is within its expiry date, properly installed, and has never been involved in an accident, you can help to keep your child safe and happy on the road.