While automobile safety has improved tremendously in recent decades, there’s one thing in a vehicle that can potentially still be unsafe at any speed – a children’s car seat. If the seat is not installed the right way then the youngster sitting in it can have their health and safety put at risk.
The No. 1 thing to remember with car seats is this: follow their instructions, and also check your car’s user’s manual as it too will have details on proper seat installation. Each car seat is installed in its own way, and if it isn’t put in place following the stated rules then it’s not going to offer a high level of security and safety.
However, there are some general tips that you can keep in mind
- Child safety seats are installed through either the lower anchors in what’s known as the LATCH system or using a seat belt. If it uses the seat belt system, then make sure to consult your car’s manual to learn how to lock it snugly into place.
- The safest place to put a car seat is in the back seat of a vehicle.
- The seat has to be secure and locked tightly in to place. It shouldn’t rock side-to-side or either front-to-back more than one inch when pulled.
- If you are using a child seat that is forward facing with a top tether strap, make sure the strap is connected tightly to the tether anchor. This limits head movement if a crash occurs.
- If it is rear facing, double-check that the seat is put in place at the stated recline angle. Most seats will have indicators to help you with this.
Installing the seat properly is only one stage of the process of safely securing your child in your vehicle. The other is making sure the youngster is positioned properly in the seat.
- If the seat is rear facing, the harness straps should be flat and not twisted. They should be run through the slot either at or below the youngster’s shoulders.
- If forward facing, the straps should also lie flat and go through the slot near or at the kid’s shoulders.
- When buckling the harness and chest clip, make sure to tighten it and ensure the harness is snug and that extra material cannot pinch at the shoulder.
- Finally, double check that the chest clip is placed at the child’s armpit level.