By Madeline Klein on November 27, 2018.
Get ready. We’re coming at you with an intense stat: every 33 seconds, a child under the age of 13 is involved in a car crash in the U.S.
Yes, we know that’s a pretty scary stat, but it’s an important one to know. It’s most parent’s worse fear to be in a car accident with their children. We’ll do anything to keep them safe, and that should include following car seat safety to a T.
1. Keep children in rear-facing car seats as long as possible
There’s some debate on how long parents should keep their kids in rear-facing car seats. A general consensus is that you should keep kids rear-facing until at least two years of age. And ideally, you can keep them rear-facing for longer.
Parents will move kids to face forward in their car seats because it’s easier to keep an eye on them. Or, sometimes it’s because they think a child’s legs will be more easily injured when rear-facing because longer legs can get a bit scrunched.
However, their legs and feet are actually safer when facing the rear because they won’t risk contact with another seat. In addition, being rear-facing means their brains and spines are safer.
2. Tighten straps to be snug
A lot of kids will fight snug straps. They don’t like being restricted and may be annoyed at the tight restraints. However, car seat straps need to be kept snug to be effective. If they aren’t tightened enough, your child could move in an accident and be much more easily injured. Some fussing over snug straps are a much better alternative.
3. Move children into a booster seat when mature enough
It’s pretty common for parents to move kids out of a car seat and into a booster seat a bit too early. Children should be at least four years old, over 40 pounds, but most importantly, mature enough to sit still and not be tempted to unbuckle straps.
It’s normal for young kids to want to play with car seat straps. But once you move them into a booster, you’ll need to trust that they won’t unbuckle or loosen their straps. A secured booster seat ensures straps are in the correct position around a child’s hips, so it’s really important those straps stay buckled and snug.
4. Place rear-facing car seats in the center seat
Because the center seat is furthest from any door or airbag, that makes it the safest place for your child. They’ll have the best chance of not getting injured if you get into an accident from any side. This is the safest spot for your rear-facing car seat.
5. Get a car seat mirror to keep an eye on rear-facing kids
While we want you to always keep your eye on the road and drive safe, a car seat mirror can be helpful for quick glances back at fussy kids. Put the mirror on the headrest of whatever seat your child is in, and you can see them reflected in your rear-view mirror.
6. Check the expiration date
Yes, an expiration date on a car seat sounds a bit funny, but it’s true. Plastic wears down with age and can become brittle. Most car seats have a lifespan of 6-8 years, so make sure you know how long yours will last. When it hits the expiration date, invest in a new car seat. It may be annoying to have to buy a new car seat, but kids are always growing, so it’s a great time to upgrade based on your child’s new height and weight.
And if you’ve been in an accident, play it safe and go ahead and get a new car seat. You may not see any damage, but there could be cracked plastic and broken pieces. Don’t take the risk with a potentially unsafe car seat.
Do your car seat research before purchasing
There are a lot of tips and a lot of advice out there when it comes to car seat safety. Always do your research and figure out what works best for you and your family. The more you know, the better you can keep your little ones safe.