By Guest Blogger on April 21, 2011 at 9:54 AM
Posted in: Safety
Shannon S., GEICO human resources, guest blogger
I’ll never forget pulling into the local car-seat safety check thinking that my car-seat installation was going to get “two thumbs up.” According to the inspector – and much to my surprise – I was among the many parents who got it all wrong! National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), estimates that as many as 85 percent of all car seats are improperly installed. Additionally, child passenger safety laws may vary by state. As a parent, it’s our responsibility to know the law and help insure that our precious cargo is riding along, safe and sound.
When installing your car seat,
- Ensure the seat is appropriate for your child’s age and size.
- Install rear- and forward-facing car seats in the back seat; the center of the back seat is the safest placement and farthest away from potential impact.
- Carefully follow the car seat and vehicle manufacturers’ manual on installing the car seat.
- Install the car seat rear-facing for as long as possible. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that your child face the back of the car until the age of 2 (not age 1 as previously advised), or until s/he reaches the maximum rear-facing height and weight for the car seat.
- Make sure that seat belts are tightly pulled through the appropriate slots on the car seat.
- Use the LATCH system, if applicable. According to BabyCenter.com, The LATCH system is designed to make installation of a car seat easier and safer by attaching it directly to anchors permanently attached to the vehicle.
- Install a used car seat that has ever been involved in in a moderate to severe accident, has broken or missing parts, or has been recalled.
- Place a protective barrier between the car seat and your car’s back seat.
- Hang a baby mirror in order for you, the driver, to see the baby’s face. Mirrors can become dangerous projectiles if in an accident.
- Place retractable blinds on any windows. Again, these can end up doing more harm than good, if you were ever in an accident. If you must install shades, consider using the single-sheet cling type.
Importantly, remember that the AAP states that the safest place in a vehicle for all children, 13 years of age and younger, is in the back seat. The AAP’s site www.healthychildren.org offers many resources to parents regarding car seat and overall safety. You can also visit the NHTSA website to find a child safety seat inspection location near you or to access a current list of car seat recalls.