There are things we take for granted, but our children’s safety is not one of them. That’s why moms listen for that silence at home that means their child may be getting into mischief. While using car seats for young children is mandatory, knowing how to secure the child in the car seat is on you. Properly installing a car seat and making sure your child is secure is something every parent needs to know.
Car and Safety Seats Reduce Injuries to Children
According to AAA, the use of car or safety seats in a motor vehicle reduces the risk of injury to a child by up to 82 percent. Car and safety seats also reduce the risk of the death of a child by about 28 percent over those who are restrained by only a seat belt. In the 4 to 8-year-old range, booster seats reduce injuries by 45 percent. While you know you are busily trying to keep your child out of dangerous mischief at home, such as scaling the dresser drawers or inspecting the power tools in the garage, once you get the hang of properly installing a car seat or booster and harnessing your smaller children in it, it’s one less thing to worry about.
Correct Installation Is the Key to Safety
One major problem in keeping a child safe while belted into a car seat or booster seat is that up to three-quarters of adults install the seat incorrectly. If you are unsure whether you have correctly installed the child safety seat in your car or truck, most police and fire stations offer free inspections.
- Read the instruction manual carefully along with the manual of your motor vehicle for car seat installation (it has one). It can help a parent install a car or booster seat correctly.
- If you’re using a seat belt to anchor the booster or car seat, ensure that you are following the directions in your vehicle manual carefully.
- If the car or booster seat has any wiggle in it, it is not correctly installed. Reread instructions and try again until the seat is secure.
- In rear-facing seats, ensure that the recline angle is correct. Many seats have adjusters and angle-indicators to ensure this.
- In forward-facing seats with an anchor strap, connect the strap tightly. This helps prevent the child’s head from snapping forward in an accident.
Harnessing Your Child in a Car Seat for Maximum Safety
Okay, your child is in the properly installed car seat. Now you want to ensure that the child is properly harnessed. This not only protects your child in his or her seat but can help restrain those children who become escapees and are busily tossing their clothing out the car window while you’re driving down the highway, oblivious to the situation.
- On both forward and rear-facing seats, the straps should lie flat without any twists.
- On forward-facing seats, the slot should be above or at the level of the child’s shoulders.
- On rear-facing seats, the slot should be below or at the child’s shoulder level. If your current child safety seat, whether front or rear-facing, doesn’t measure up, it’s time to purchase a new one.
- Connect the harness buckle chest clip and tighten it. You can check the shoulder of the harness to see if there is any play in it. If you can pinch the harness up by the shoulder with two fingers, it’s too loose.
- Look at the chest clip to ensure it is at the level of the child’s armpits. This provides maximum protection for the child’s chest area. If the chest clip is improperly positioned, move it.
Car Seat Defects Cause Injury to Children
Not all car seats are safe. Recent product defects include six-million car seats recalled by Graco in 2014 due to buckle problems that could lead to the child being stuck in the vehicle in the event of a crash or a fire. While the company offered to repair the buckle free of charge, the exact number of purchasers who returned the car seats for repair is unknown. This is a common problem in car seat recalls. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that about 40 percent of car seats are returned for repairs despite a recall. This is in stark contrast to approximately 75 percent of automobiles that are brought to a dealership after a recall.
Why Are Defect Alerts Not Noticed by Parents?
This happens for a variety of reasons. Let’s compare it to a defect in a car. Automobiles are registered so it’s easy to track down the owners. On the other hand, car seats do not require registration. You can do it, but it is entirely voluntary. This means alerting owners to the presence of a defect, even with a potentially dangerous one as that found with a defective buckle, can be difficult.
Another issue is that as children grow, car seats are often sold to other new parents or given away. This means that even if the seat was registered, the alert was sent to the original owner and either ignored or not noticed. How many times do you receive a notice in the mail and inadvertently toss it? So, the car seat with its defect is passed along. You can check for car seat defects by clicking here. Another place to check is on parents.com.
What Happens When a Child Is Injured in a Defective Car Seat?
This falls under the umbrella of defective products liability law. Defects occur due to design flaws or manufacturer mistakes. In either case, the company is responsible for letting the car seat owners know about the defect and repairing it in a timely manner or replacing the car seat. If this does not happen and someone is injured, the company is liable for damages.
While no one can compensate a parent enough for injuries to their children, medical expenses do mount when this occurs. A product defect lawyer would be able to make sure the medical bills, both in the present and in the future, are paid. David Azizi, a top attorney in California, understands the anguish parents are facing. As a father of three himself, he knows that nothing is as important as children. Call him if you need help at 800-991-5292. He offers a free case evaluation and can answer your questions.