Children are our most precious cargo. We should be doing everything we can to keep them safe, and when we’re traveling, that begins with using car seats. According to CCD Law in Spokane Washington, incorrect or inadequate child restraints can lead to severe injuries in an accident. Car seats offer a lot of protection, but only if used properly. There are several common mistakes that people make when using car seats. Keep reading to see what they are and to learn more about how you can protect your son or daughter.
Using an Old Seat
When you look at a car seat, you probably can’t tell how old it is. To the untrained eye, all car seats look pretty similar, no matter the year when they were made. Many people don’t realize that car seats can expire and that the average lifespan of a car seat is around six years. You can find the expiration date on the seat itself. Manufacturers usually include this information on the user manual or on a label affixed to the back or the bottom of the seat. Car seats have expiration dates because materials can wear down over time and compromise the integrity of seats. Fabric, plastic, padding, webbing, and other materials can’t last forever. Everyday use, exposure to the sun, and exposure to extreme temperatures throughout the year can all take a toll on a seat. Since damage can be hard to spot, especially if it’s on the interior of the seat, it’s best to follow expiration guidelines.
Using the Wrong Seat for Your Child
Manufacturers make a variety of car seats, so it can sometimes be difficult to determine what kind of seat would be best for your child. Fortunately, the information you need is included on any labels, packaging, and user manuals that come with car seats. You’ll be able to find out which seat is good for children of certain heights, ages, and weights. Infants are only to use rear-facing car seats. In fact, in many states, children under the age of 2 are required to ride in rear-facing seats. When children get older, they can move into forward-facing seats with five-point harnesses. Finally, you can transition a child to a booster seat when he or she exceeds the size restrictions of a harness-style seat. If you move a child to the next stage too early, he or she might not be properly protected in case you become involved in an accident. Since children fit differently in seats depending on what size they are, it’s important to use the right model.
Using Harnesses and Clips the Wrong Way
The harnesses on car seats play an important role in protecting children. If they’re too loose, they won’t keep children in place as well. If they’re too tight, this could obviously cause severe discomfort and potentially other problems. To get the right fit, place your child in the seat and tighten the harness. Continue tightening until you can’t pinch any webbing between your fingers when testing the harness at the child’s shoulder. Make sure each side is even and that the straps aren’t twisted. Place the chest clip at armpit level so that it can keep the shoulder straps in the right position where they can offer the best protection.
Not Reading the Instructions Before Installing a Seat
Unfortunately, many people think they know how to install car seats but make mistakes when doing so. To protect your child, it’s critical that you read the instructions before installing your car seat. The user manual will tell you exactly how to get a proper fit. Whether you use the vehicle’s seatbelt or the LATCH system, you should follow the instructions step by step.