According to statistics, the top cause of children between the ages of three and 14 in the United States is vehicle accidents. Even though car seats can help to reduce the total number of children that are injured in these situations, if they are not being used the right way, the seat may do more harm, and result in more injuries.
Learning about the mistakes commonly made with car seats will help to reduce the possibility of severe injuries, and even fatalities, to children if they are involved in a car accident.
Turning the Car Seat Forward Too Soon
According to the law, you child should remain in a rear facing car seat until they reach the age of one, or are 20 pounds or heavier. Unfortunately, up to 25 percent of all parents turn the car seat forward too soon.
The benefit of a rear facing car seat, the child’s head, back and neck are fully supported. When the car seat is turned forward, they will only be restrained by the harness strap, eliminating the head and neck support. This increases the possibility of a spinal or neck injury significantly.
The Car Seat is Not Secure in the Vehicle
If you try to jiggle a car seat after you have attached the safety belt, you should notice how much it moves. If it moves more than an inch in any direction, then this means it is too loose. Modern vehicles have unique anchors that help ensure the car seat is properly secured in the vehicle. You need to make sure the car seat doesn’t move too much, as this is going to put your child at risk for more injuries if an accident were to occur.
The Seat isn’t Properly Angled in the Vehicle
It is important that your car seat is reclined enough so your child won’t fall forward; however, it should not be more than 45 degrees away from being completely vertical. If the child is in the seat at an angle which is larger than that, then they may be projected out between the straps or harness, headfirst. If a car accident were to occur, this could result in severe injuries and even death.
The Straps of the Harness are Too Loose
You need to make sure the harness of the car seat is tightened so any slack is unable to be pinched by your finger and thumb. If you can move the straps easily, or if your child is able to get their arms under the straps, then it could result in your child being thrown out of the seat if an accident occurred.
The Straps of the Harness aren’t in the Right Slots
If your child is still in a rear facing seat, then the straps need to be in the slot positioned at or below their shoulders. In a forward facing seat, the straps should come through the top slots, unless the directions indicate something different.
If you want to keep your child safe in a car accident, make sure you don’t make the mistakes highlighted here. If you or your child is injured in an accident that resulted from another person’s fault or negligence contact a personal injury attorney to help you recover compensation.