We all LOVE our kids, we strive to make the best decisions for them, to protect them, to provide the best we can for them. Yet, most likely, every day, multiple times a day, we are buckling them up improperly, possibly risking their lives. We tend to think of car seats more in regards to the law and less about the protection they are providing our kids... IF they are used properly. We don't want to think about getting into an accident, but we just cant be certain that we wont. So, lets all take precautions to at least improve the outcome, if possible... because in reality, every time we drive with our little ones, we are taking a risk. Personally, I just want to know that I did my best to keep my little ones safe... and I'm sure you do too!
The leading causes of injury-related death among children ages 14 and under are motor vehicle crashes, suffocation, drowning and fires and/or burns. "Our data revealed that parents and caregivers are making five critical, but fixable, mistakes when using car seats. This news is important because we know that correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent." -Safe Kids
Here are the top 5 things to do to check your car seat (You can download this list on Safekids.com, there is a link in this press release.):
- Right Seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it's appropriate for your child's age, weight and height. Like milk, your car seat has an expiration date. Just double check the label on your car seat to make sure it is still safe. Kids should be using car seats until they are around 8-12 years old or 4'9 and can safely use a regular seat belt. If you are not sure which seat to use, check out Safe Kids.com. You can click on "Safety Basics", put in your childs age group, and get recommendations.
- Right Place. Kids are VIPs, just ask them. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all children in the back seat until they are big enough to ride without a booster seat. The recommendation is children in the back seat until they are 13. Doing this, along with correctly using the appropriate child restraints, greatly reduces the risk of injury.
- Right Direction. There is a lot of confusion on this one... The 1 year & 20 pounds rule is no more... 1 is now 2... I know, bummer... BUT "Your small little love is 75% less likely to die or incur a serious injury if rear-facing when riding the car. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that all children under age 2 years be in a rear-facing car seat. Even if their legs hit the back of the seat. The rationale: children are five times safer in rear-facing seats in this age group." Rear-facing is preferred for as long as possible. Tell everyone! You may save a precious little life! More about this at this awesome blog.
- Inch Test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base where the seat belt fits. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
- Pinch Test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). Top of straps should be at or BELOW shoulders when rear facing, and at or ABOVE when forward facing. Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child's shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you're good to go.
If you would like to have help with your car seat, there are car seat clinics all over the U.S. to help you! Search for one in your area by clicking here! If you live in Bend, the Bend Fire Dept (1212 SW Simpson) is hosts carseat clinics. I believe they host these clinics on the fourth Wednesday of every month... contact them, just to be sure.