I have been wanting to share on the topic of car seat safety for a while now.
There are a few things that happened recently that inspired me to write this article ahead of schedule. The first is a Today Show segment on car seat safety that I saw on Facebook. The second thing that happened is a friend was in a serious car accident. And the third is something I see all the time, photos of kids improperly secured in their car seats on social media.
I do not think the parents of the children in these photos are bad parents. Many people simply do not know about these safety issues. With winter weather and holiday travel upon us I decided that now is the time to get the word out!
Why does this topic strike such a chord with me?
I have lost two friends because of fatal car accidents and have had to watch multiple friends and family members lives changed because of serious car accidents.
Three and half years ago my husband and I were in a serious car accident. We had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance and our car was completely totaled. Thankfully, this was before my daughter Genevieve was born. This experience was a huge wake up call and in the future I plan to share about our car accident in detail and let you know what to do if you ever find yourself in that situation.
Recently I was wondering, what if my daughter had been in the car with us? Would she have been safe? Do you know what to do if you are involved in a car accident when your child is in the car?
Now that I have shared the reason this topic is so important to me I would like to address some of the biggest safety issues that I see regularly on social media.
Improper placement of the chest clip.
What is the point of this clip anyway? These clips are not meant to hold a child in the seat during an accident but to make sure that the straps are properly placed onto the child’s shoulders. In a nut shell, they are not a huge part of accident protection and many countries do not use the chest clips at all. That being said, if you are in an accident and the clip is improperly placed it could injure your child.
If the chest clip is placed too high it could cause injury to baby’s throat or even cause asphyxiation should a car accident occur.
With proper placement your child might have a bruised chest. This is an injury that can heal on its own with time and would not need extended treatment like the injuries mentioned above.
Too many layers under the straps and or straps being too lose.
Putting a coat on your child while they are in the car seat is one instance where parents really are trying to make their child more comfortable. Sadly, they are actually endangering their child in the process.
In this Today Show segment they look at what can happen if your child has too much padding under their car seat straps. Please watch and share!
Once you remove the extra layer of clothing you can see that the straps are far too lose.
According to HealthyChildren.org, “In a car crash, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space under the harness. A child can then slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat.” They are at risk of being thrown into a passenger seat, thrown into the door or a window or even thrown out of the car.
You want to make sure that the car seat straps are flush against your child’s body. You should not be able to pinch any extra fabric. I assume that parents think that tight straps will be uncomfortable for their child, but if the child is the correct size for their seat and things are placed properly they should be perfectly comfortable.
Using the wrong size.
In the example photos above you may have noticed that my daughter looks rather large in the car seat. This is because we were using her old infant car seat. It is important to know what the height and weight limit is for your car seat. This information can be found in your car seat manual and can usually be found on the seat itself.
Forward facing too early.
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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping your child rear facing until at least age 2, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat. My daughter was in an infant car seat until she reached the height limit. We then purchased a convertible car seat where I plan to keep her rear facing for quite a while and here is why.
A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention found that children under age two are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. Another study found riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing.
“A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body,” said Dennis Durbin, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatric emergency physician and co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphiaand lead author of the policy statement and accompanying technical report. ”
As of January 1, 2017 California will require children under age 2, and under 40 lbs. or under 40”, to be secured in a rear-facing car seat. I have a feeling that other states will eventually follow suit to line up with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.
Why should this information be taken seriously?
According to this Parenting.com article,
“Every day we lose 4 to 5 children in car crashes. They are the leading cause of death for kids in this country and yet most of us are completely untrained in the best way to keep our kids safe from them: by properly installing a car seat.”
I have only covered a few car seat safety mistakes. I highly recommend reading these articles to learn more about these mistakes as well as the other car seat safety issues that can occur.
Car Seat Mistakes You May Be Making ~ Parenting
Car Seats: Information for Families ~ Healthy Children
Parents wrestle with rear-facing car seat advice ~ Washington Post
I encourage you to do your research. Please take your child’s car seat safety as well as your own safety in the car seriously. I thankfully had a wake up call before my daughter was born, don’t wait until after you experience a car accident to take your families safety seriously. Be sure to download our free printable car accident checklist to keep in your vehicle for easy access.
Please help us spread the word. This information could save a child from serious injury or even death in the case of a car accident.
Be prepared. Don’t miss What to do if you are in a car accident with your child in the car.