You want your child to be as safe and secure as possible at all times, especially when you're zipping to and fro in your vehicle of choice. Cars are an important part of modern life, but they do have inherent risks. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, motor-vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and 19. Experience and research have shown that proper car seat installation is the best way to protect your child in case of an accident. Unfortunately, DMV.org reports that seven out of 10 car seats are not installed properly. When installing a car seat for your little one, be sure that your child is well-protected.
In general, it's always best to follow the seat manufacturer's instructions. Each car is slightly different, so methods will vary, but there are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to proper car seat installation:
- Place the child's car seat in the backseat of your car, preferably in the center. Since this spot will keep your child farthest away from any impact or airbag inflation, it is the safest place for your child to be.
- Make sure all the straps are tight and lay flat. Once everything is tightened up, the seat should not move more than an inch in any direction.
- Adjust the base to the appropriate recline angle. Most car seats come with a built-in mechanism that will either do this for you or at least help you with it.
The basic principle behind car seat installation and use is that the seat — and therefore, your child — should be secured firmly to the car. Ultimately, the goal is to limit your child's movement in the unfortunate event of an accident.
Time to Buckle Up
Once your car seat is properly installed, it's important to make sure that it's used properly as well. Place your child in the seat so that his or her back and bottom are flat against it. Tighten all the straps until they are snug enough to just barely fit one of your fingers in the slack. Make sure that there are no twists in the straps, since this could stop the chair from properly restraining your child. If there's any space between the straps and your child's groin, use a rolled up diaper or cloth to make the fit more secure.
Winter, with its bulky clothes, can present a unique challenge when it comes to making sure that you're using your car seat correctly. Those big, puffy coats that keep kids so warm create lots of empty space that will collapse if you have to stop short, effectively preventing the car seat from doing its job. To get around this, make sure children wear only their indoor clothes while in the car seat. If you're concerned about keeping them warm, you can always place a blanket or jacket over them once they are safely strapped in.
Proper car seat installation and use will help protect your little one. Although you can't control everything that happens to your children, you can use these tips to make them as safe as possible.
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