Car Seat Safety Tips: Keeping Your Kids Safe in an Accident

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Keeping your child secure in the car is a top priority for parents. It is important to know and understand how to properly restrain a child in a car in order to avoid serious injury or even death in the event of an accident. The following tips and advice, when followed, can help ensure a child's well being and safety. Most experts recommend parents keep their children in a rear-facing car seat in the backseat for as long as possible.

Securing Young Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, recommends that children face that way until they're two years old or have hit their seat's weight limit (usually around 22 to 40 pounds). Parents can find the exact height and weight limit on the back or side of the car seat. It is especially important for rear-facing children to ride in a backseat away from the airbag. Kids who ride in rear-facing seats have the best protection for the head, neck and spine.  When a child outgrows a rear-facing seat, move them to a forward-facing car seat, keeping it in the backseat.

Retainer Clips

When the child is secure in the car seat, use the retainer clips attached to the harness strap and fasten them at armpit level to keep the straps from slipping off your baby's shoulder. The straps should lie flat and untwisted and should be tight enough so that you can't get more than two fingers between the harness and your baby's collarbone.

Making It Easier

Another important tip includes dressing your baby comfortably, which will allow parents to strap the baby in easily. Try to avoid bulky snowsuits in cold, wintry weather; they can make it difficult for you to get the harness straps tight enough.

Follow Manufacturer Instructions

It should also be noted that in order to ensure the greatest protection for an infant or child, car seat installation is crucial and the manufacturers instructions should be followed. If you drive a car made in 2002 or later, you'll be using the LATCH system, which uses anchors and tethers instead of safety belts to attach the car seat to the backseat of the car. If you drive an older model car use a locking clip if the shoulder/lap belt doesn't lock automatically.

Double Checking

Once your car seat is installed, give it a good tug at the base where the seat belt goes through it. Can you move it more than an inch side-to-side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch, nor will it pivot, wobble, tip, or slide. If you are unsure, and need someone to double-check your work most local police and fire stations will do a safety check for you.
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