Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why take the risk?!

There are only a few things that truly enrage me, things that I am truly passionate about and one of them is proper child car seat usage. Ask anyone, if I am in or near your car I will check to make sure your car seat and child are properly installed.

You know how you see those signs that say 80% of car seats are not properly installed? Well I used to think, how hard can it be? Then after my daughter was born, we took her and the car seat to one of the cars seat inspection stations... well we had it totally wrong. She was too loose in it, the seat itself was totally loose and out of whack.

From that point on I became anal about car seats. I mean if there is one thing that can save your child's life and you have control over it, why wouldn't you do it? I am truly not embarrassed and not afraid to embarrass any of my friends by calling them out on their kid not being buckled in right. Sometimes I think I should become a car seat installation professional because I am so passionate about this.

So here are some key points:
1. Rear facing is the safest, keep them that was as long as possible, even if it is more than 2 years, do not, do not, get anxious to turn your baby around! The law is at least 1 yr AND 20lbs. Oh and just because they have grown long enough to have their feet touch the seat, does NOT make them TOO long. still keep them rear facing!

2. 5 point harnesses are the safest, the longer your kid can be in one, the better (my 3.5 yr old is still in one even though he can technically ride in a booster) the new car seat I just got him will allow him to be in a 5 pt harness until he is 65 lbs!

3. You should not be able to move the car seat side to side when it is installed in your car. (My seats don't budge). To do this put all of your weight in the bucket of the seat with one or both of your knees as you tighten the buckles.

4. Another way to get it tight if your vehicle seat reclines: recline it and install the car seat as tightly as possible. Then put the vehicle seat back upright for a tight installation

5. You should only be able to get about 1 (2 at the most) finger under the strap of the cars seat when your child is buckled in.

6. When in a 5 pt harness when buckled, the chest buckle should be about level with the child's arm pits.

7. Car seats DO expire, check the date on your car seat, they are only good for 5 years.

8. Please, Please, Please do not buy a car seat a garage sale or thrift store. Oh and if you are in an accident, turn the seat into insurance and get a new one.

9. Please don't put your kid in the front seat, unless you HAVE to, even with no air bags, air bags turned off, the back is just safer... until 12 yrs of age.

10. When it comes to booster seats, if you have a 5 point harness that will hold an older child (these are pretty new) please use this. Otherwise, make sure you follow the guidelines for the seat, usually 30 lbs and 3 yrs for a high back booster and 40lbs for a no back. I still make my 5 year old ride in a high back simply because I feel she is safer because the seat belt is fitting her better.

11. Here in Illinois, the law is that a child has to ride in a booster seat until 8 yrs of age AND 40 lbs., good standards if you ask me.

I could go on and on, but these are the key points that I seem to notice the most. Here is a link to the American Academy of Pediatrics with a guide to car seats.

Oh and don't even get me started on kids NOT in car seats at all, especially those that are crawling around in the back or front while the "adult" is driving. This is just plain ridiculous, and uncalled for. I have asked my police buddies if I can call the cops on these people, they say yes, however I wonder if they would actually do anything. But truly it is child neglect to not have a child in a car seat, who legally should be. I know, I know when I was a kid they didn't have car seats either, but now we KNOW better, so we should DO better!

1 comment:

Robyn said...

I'm so glad someone else is as passionate about car seats as I am! Lily was in hers rear-facing until two years old. We're about to move up to a newer Britax that will keep her in a 5-point harness up to 65 lbs. The rate she's going she'll about 8 or 9 before reaching 65 pounds...that little string bean of mine! ;-)