On average, 4 out of 5 car seats are installed incorrectly. This statistic is and should be rather alarming; however, if installed correctly, Safe Kids Worldwide reports that “child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by up to 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers (ages 1 to 4).”
Check your child’s car seat against these common mistakes to ensure it isn’t one of the four.
Mistake #1: Seat is not tight enough.
Once your seat is installed with either the anchors or a seat belt, grab the seat at either side of the base with both hands and try to move it from side to side. It should not move more than an inch in either direction. Repeat the same motion, trying to move the seat forward. If it does move more than an inch, the seat is too loose.
The best way to tighten it is to put one knee in the seat and pull the strap back towards the belt path as hard as possible. If the seat is forward-facing, another important thing to check is whether the top tether strap is hooked in place and tightened. This strap further secures the seat.
Mistake #2: Shoulder straps are not positioned correctly and/or are too loose.
Often, the shoulder straps on car seats are not threaded through the correct holes. For rear-facing seats, they should hit just at or below the baby’s shoulders. For forward-facing seats, they should hit just at or above the toddler’s shoulders.
Another thing to check is whether the straps are tight enough. You can do this by performing the pinch test. Once the straps are buckled in place, try pinching the belt at the child’s shoulder. If you are able to do so, the straps need to be tightened.
Mistake #3: Rear-facing seat is not at the correct angle.
The third common error is installing a rear-facing seat that is too upright. All rear-facing seats should be at a 45 degree angle. Fortunately, many car seats now have a built-in level so that you can avoid this mistake. Experts often recommend using a piece of a pool noodle or a rolled up towel to help adjust the angle if needed.
And this is only the beginning. Let’s face it: installing a car seat is not an easy task. Before you get on the road with a new seat, make sure to find your nearest car seat inspection station. These experts are ready and willing to check your work, give you tips, and ensure your little one is as safe as possible.
At Bryant Motors, safety is one of our top priorities for you and your family. Come check out our latest inventory and vehicle safety packages!