Car Seat Safety Tips You Need to Know
As a parent, keeping your child safe is one of your top priorities. One of the most dangerous activities that a child does in any given day is travel in a car. In fact, for children under the age of four, auto crashes are the leading cause of death, according to the CDC. As your child and your family grow, sometimes it can be difficult to know how to buckle them up safely.
At Virginia Tire & Auto, we have several certified car seat technicians to make sure every box is checked when it comes to your child’s safety. Nationally certified through Safe Kids Worldwide, our Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPST) provide hands-on assistance and free car seat safety checks to parents with young children.
In addition to having your car seat correctly installed, here are some car seat safety tips to keep you safe on the road.
7 Car Seat Safety Tips
1. Make sure your child is in the back seat.
No infant or child should be riding in the front seat until they are about 13 years old. Keeping them in the back seat protects them from the active airbags. If you place a car seat in the front seat and the airbag inflates, it could hit the rear-facing car seat right where your child’s head is, potentially causing severe injuries.
2. Place the car seat in the safest place: the center seat.
If a good fit is possible, placing the car seat in the center seat in the back is the safest option. One study suggests that the center seat is 43% safer than the side for children. Specifically, in the center seat, the child cannot take any direct impact if the car is hit from the side, minimizing the risk of injury during a car crash.
3. Ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently announced that they have updated their child passenger safety seat guidelines. The main change is that there is no longer an age limit for riding in a rear-facing car seat. Children should now ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as their car seat limits allow, which virtually includes all children under the age of two and most children up to the age of four.
4. Keep those straps snug.
As you buckle your children into their car seats, remember that the straps are supposed to be a little tight around their bodies. There should be little to no slack left after you are finished tightening the belts. You can test this by seeing if you can pinch the strap over on itself near the collarbone. If it can pinch, it isn’t quite tight enough.
5. Remove all bulk before buckling.
The deception of fluff could be harmful to your child. While remaining warm is important during the colder months, unbundling before strapping your child in can help keep him/her safe in the car. When a child is wrapped up in bulky coats and layers, the straps may seem like they are properly tightened. If you were to take the layers off and leave the straps at the same tightness, they would be far too loose for your child to ride safely.
6. Register your car seat with the manufacturer.
By registering your car seat with the manufacturer, you will be alerted of any important notices about the car seat. If there is a recall of the product, the only way the manufacturer can reach you is if you are registered.
7. Have a trained technician install your car seat.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that “estimated misuse rates were 61 percent for forward-facing car seats, 49 percent for rear-facing infant car seats, 44 percent for rear-facing convertible car seats, 24 percent for backless booster seats, and 16 percent for highback booster seats.” Car seats are more challenging than most parents realize, so making an appointment to meet a trained technician can be informative and helpful.
Virginia Tire & Auto’s Free Car Seat Clinics
At Virginia Tire & Auto, we’re committed to keeping kids safe in cars. We are proud sponsors of both Saving Loudoun’s Littles and Saving Prince William’s Littles. These programs dedicate all their efforts to providing car seat checks to those living in the Loudoun and Prince William communities.
Not only do we sponsor these initiatives, but we have also taken on an active role in the car seat inspection effort. With the help of our Passenger Safety Technicians, we host free car seat clinics, providing the best car seat safety tips and inspections. Schedule an appointment at one of our clinics here!