As a mother of young children, like any parent, I want to know my little ones are as safe as possible while we travel from place to place on the road. Lately, I’ve found choosing, installing and using a car seat can be confusing because the rules are changing so often. After a recent visit with a passenger safety technician at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, UT, I was able to get the latest safety techniques they use to properly secure children in child safety car seats. Here are their top tips to keep you riding safely.
USING A CAR SEAT
Use rear-facing car seats as long as possible. New research indicates that toddlers are more than five times safer in a rear-facing car seat up to their second birthdays. Next , use a forward-facing car seat with a harness until your child weighs 40 pounds, or reaches four years of age. Then, use a booster seat until at least age 8, or until your child is four feet nine inches tall, when an adult seat belt fits properly. Finally, use a seat belt for the rest of their life.
SAFETY TIPS FOR INSTALLATION AND USE
Read the vehicle owner’s manual and the car seat manufacturer’s instruction booklets. Make sure that the car seat fits your child, fits your vehicle, and that you know how to use it properly. Many baby-themed stores that sell child safety seats allow you to take the floor models to your car with a store associate to determine how a seats fits in the car prior to purchasing it.
When a child safety seat is installed correctly, it should not move more than an inch side to side and forward and backward. If your vehicle was after 2002, it likely comes with the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, which will secure the child safety seat without the use of adult seat belts.You can use either a seat belt or the LATCH system, but never both at the same time.
The child safety seat harness should fit snugly on the child and you should not be able to pinch any fabric of the harness (webbing) between your fingers when it is placed on the child. Position the chest retainer clip at the arm pit.
PURCHASING A CAR SEAT
All child safety seats are tested for safety and must meet the same federal safety standards. Some have extra comfort and safety features, but even the least expensive model can protect your child when it is properly installed and correctly used.
Use caution when borrowing a child safety seat or buying a used child safety seat. Child safety seats expire after six years, at which time the plastic may easily break or crack. Child safety seats that have been in a crash should be replaced.
RECYCLING YOUR CAR SEAT
Instead of filling landfills with child safety seat plastics, many cities now offer child safety seat recycling company to find out about special clinics. Along the Wasatch Front in the State of Utah, you can drop off your used child safety seats every Friday from 9am- 4pm at the Utah Safety Council, 1574 West 1700 South, in Salt Lake City. If you reside in another state, or country, type in “recycling car seats” and “your city” into a search engine to find the closest recycling facility near you.