By BreeAnn Silcox, Bear River Health Department Safe Kids Bear River
Have you ever wondered if your child’s car seat is installed properly? Does it wiggle a little or a lot? Ever wonder where or how to adjust the harness straps? Unfortunately, many car seats are not installed properly to provide the best protection. Safe Kids Bear River Coalition provides car seat installation and assistance, and according to their local data, as many as 75 percent of car seats may be installed incorrectly.
According to the Utah Crash Summary from the Utah Highway Safety Office, in 2011, a crash occurred about every 10 minutes in Utah. Unrestrained occupants are approximately 31 times more likely to die in a crash than those who are restrained. “Always wearing a seat belt and making sure your child is properly restrained is the best form of protection in a crash,” said Helen Henson-Hale of Logan Regional Hospital and member of Safe Kids Bear River. When asked what the best car seat is for a child, Henson-Hale advised, “The best seat is the seat that fits your child’s height and weight and developmental stage and is used properly every single ride.”
Some of the most common errors seen include:
- Moving a child forward facing or out of a car seat too soon
- Incorrectly fastening the seat into the vehicle
- Incorrectly fastening the child into the seat
- Adults not buckling up sending a mixed message to children and teens
“Children should stay rear facing until age 2 to best protect their neck and spine,” said Henson-Hale. “Booster seats boost a child into place to be protected by a seat belt, which alone is designed to protect a larger person.”
Henson-Hale also mentioned that parents shouldn’t buckle the child into the car seat while wearing a bulky coat. “The coat can compress in a crash and create a loose car seat harness, putting the child at a greater risk to injury. Instead, lay the jacket over your child like a blanket once the child is safely secured. Remember to ‘buckle, then bundle.’”
Proper use of car seats has increased over the years and car seat technology has improved to make installation easier. Still many errors are seen by Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians. Some errors can be minor, but some can be very dangerous and deadly.
Parents and caregivers are urged to read the car seat owner’s manual and also the vehicle owner’s manual to insure all steps are taken for proper installation. For additional assistance visit clickitutah.org and click on CHILDREN to access the age/stage of your child, visit brhd.org or call the Bear River Health Department to ask questions or schedule an appointment with a Child Passenger Safety Technician at (435)792-6510.