Car seat safety has been a growing concern in the country in recent years. The use of a car seat is the best way that you – the parents – can provide the best kind of protection to your children while on the road. Many parents find that these car seats can double as carriers, too, (depends on the manufacturer and the specific model) so they get more use out of them along the way.
Each state in the country requires that all infants and young children be in an appropriate seat, which of course aims to prevent injury to the children in case of automobile accidents – currently the leading cause of death in kids.
Using the Seats Correctly
Child safety seats can only offer protection if used correctly, which says a lot about the current knowledge level of parents throughout the country. Yes, they follow the requirement of using car seats, but many of these seats aren’t used correctly. Remember to follow the guidelines to ensure your child’s safety. Most parents gauge the quality of the car seat on the price tag – but the most expensive ones aren’t necessarily the best ones to have. Consider the factors of age, size and weight, as well as the type of car you are driving.
Before going for a drive, try the seat on for size. This is basically a self-learning process, while the stores may have instructions on how to install the carseat, these instructions are not always the right way to go about it. So you have to learn how to install and use it properly before hitting the road. If you are having trouble or difficulty with the installation, do not hesitate to ask for help from a technician. You can also contact the federal government to conduct a car seat inspection – there are many car seat inspection stations all around the country. Other sources of help and advisement are health departments, hospitals, law enforcement offices, public safety groups, and even fire departments. Only make sure that the person helping you is a certified safety technician for child passenger seats.
Choosing the Right Car Seat
To help you make the right purchase, here are the guidelines to keep in mind when choosing car seats:
- The seat must have a seal or label stating it meets (or exceeds) the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard of 2013 (or of the current year of purchase).
- If you are going to use a used seat, take caution. If it is more than 6 years old, skip it. Don’t accept seats that were in a vehicular crash of any sort – it may look integrally stable on the outside but may have structural problems inside.
- If the seat has missing parts, is not properly labeled with a model number or manufacture date, don’t accept it. You will need the model number to check for any product recalls. Don’t accept seats without a product manual as well.
- If you do accept a used car seat, be sure to contact its original manufacturer. Ask about how long the model is safe for use and for any possible recalls in the past. If it has been recalled, the manufacturer may send you another model as a replacement.
- Car seats come with a product registration card. Take the time to properly fill this out because this will be how the manufacturer or store gets in contact with you immediately should a recall be announced.
Car Seats Exclusively for Infants
Infant-only car seats are designed for newborns to babies weighing 22 to 35 pounds. These seats are the best fit for your infants. Once the child outgrows the seat, you must buy another seat that fits his/her weight and age requirements.
Car seats for infants are placed in the rear of the car to cradle the baby’s head, neck and torso should a crash happen. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests infants and toddlers alike to use rear-facing seats until age 2, or depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation. However, many parents are still used to the previous recommendations – so they turn their kids’ car seats to face the front at around 1 year of age (or at least 20 pounds).
Studies tell us that kids aged 2 and younger have 75% less chances to be severely injured or die if they are in a rear-facing car seat. The explanation being that kids this age have necks that aren’t strong enough to support their own head during a crash.
Essentially, the right thing to do is to follow the proper guidelines and recommendations to provide the best protection for your children. If we know anything, it’s that nothing is really constant – so keeping abreast with updates from the news, government announcements and safety authorities is very important for all parents.