It is estimated that nearly 90% of all car seats are being used incorrectly. Sometimes it takes more than just a “click” to be sure your children are safe. To ensure safety, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation, and complete safety checks frequently.
Here are a few tips to ensure your child’s car seat safety:
- Make sure you have registered your seat. This way, you can be notified of safety recalls.
- Do not buckle children in snowsuits or heavy winter coats. This can cause them to slip out of the harness. Instead, buckle them in first, and put a coat on backwards, or use a blanket.
- Check proper seat angles – For example: rear facing infant seats must be installed at a 45-degree angle.
- Don’t switch to a front facing seat too soon. Children should be rear facing until at least 2 years of age or longer.
- Skipping the seat “just this once”. This is a mistake even when just going around the corner.
Pennsylvania law requires all children up to 8 years old be in a child seat. Here are the current recommendations for children up age 12:
All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing infant, or convertible car seat, until they are at least 2 years of age, or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacturer.
Any child who has outgrown the rear-facing weight, or height limit, for their convertible car seat, should use a forward-facing car seat with a full harness, for as long as possible. These seats should be used up to the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car seat, should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. Typically, this is when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are AT LEAST 8 years old, up to 12 years old.
For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safest.