Basics of baby carseat safety
Parents go through so much trouble to choose high quality baby carseats for their precious bundles of joy in the car. However, one of the saddest aspects of child safety on the roads is that in most cases the babies do not fit the carseat correctly. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nearlky 80% of baby carseats are misused or badly fitted.
The most common errors are harness straps that are too loose and safety belt attachments that are incorrectly fastened. These mistakes are defined by the NHTSA as ‘critical’ because there is a possibility of serious injury in the event of an accident. So most baby carseats are not nearly as safe as parents may think, and many babies are at risk.
How can you make sure your baby is safe when you drive?
First, you need to make sure that you are using the right type of carseat for your baby’s age and weight, and that it is facing the right way. Some multi-purpose seats can be fitted to face either forward or backward and the fitting will change as your child grows. Babies under one year old and under 20 lb in weight should have rear-facing carseats. But note that all child safety seats, whether forward or backward facing, should be fitted on the back seat of the car, and not in the front seat.
It is also possible to buy infant carseats for young babies. These are designed to be rear-facing only, so you will need a new carseat when your child gets bigger. However, they will be a better fit for your newborn baby and they are easier to store and carry, because they are smaller. You can carry your sleeping baby around in the infant safety seat.
If you prefer, you can buy a convertible seat that can be adapted to fit babies and toddlers. Convertible seats are larger and heavier and you are more likely to leave them in the car all of the time. They must be fitted in the rear facing position for young babies and then when the child turns one or weighs over 20 lb, the safety seat can be turned around to face the front. A convertible seat will usually hold children up to 40 lb.
But whatever type of safety seat you select, the most important point is to fit it correctly. You must read both the instructions that come with the car seat and the owner’s manual for your car. First, make sure that you have the seat firmly and correctly buckled into the car. Then make sure you know how to fit and secure the harness straps that hold your baby inside the seat.
Don’t guess – have your baby’s seat checked by a qualified technician.
If you are considering buying a used carseat or accepting one as a gift, consider the age and condition of the seat. Seats that have been used by several children in a family, or seats that have been in an accident, may be worn or broken and not safe for a baby any more. The label should tell you the date of manufacture and you should not use a seat that is more than five years old. Make sure that you have the manufacturer’s instructions and that all the parts are included. If the instructions have been lost, you may be able to find a copy online, but make sure you have the right manual for your exact safety carseat. If not, do not use the seat, even if it was a gift. It is not worth taking the chance. It is not recommended to use second hand carseats. There are also recommendations on how old a carseat can be before you stop using it. Carseat laws and recommendations will vary from state to state or province by province. You should buy a new carseat and have it registered in case of recalls. You can also check the safety of your carseat from time to time by calling your respective transportation safety department to find a carseat safety check location. You can also visit http://www.seatcheck.org/ to help find a safety inspector near you.
Above all remember that in an accident, your child’s life depends on the baby carseat.car seat, child safety seats, infant carseat, child safety seat, precious bundles, convertible seat, baby care, the right, convertible seats, find a