Car Seat Safety - Myths vs Facts
The gulf between what the general population does in terms of car seat safety and what safety experts recommend is wider than you may think.
Myth: Car seats are manufactured to be easily and quickly secured properly into the backseat of one’s vehicle.
Fact: In reality, car seats can be difficult to properly secure, and if you drive an older model car, the difficulty factor increases. Many parents have a difficult time properly securing the top tether, which connects the top of the car seat to the rear shelf of the vehicle. After you have installed your car seat, bring it to your local fire station so that they can check to make sure it’s been installed securely.
Myth: A hand-me-down car seat is a great way to save money.
Fact: The car seat is one item you shouldn’t expect to be just as functional used as when bought new. If a car seat has been in a car accident, it is considered less reliable due to any hidden damage the impact of the crash may have caused. Plus, wear and tear on the plastic over time can make the car seat less stable and secure. If you do decide to use a handed down car seat, make sure that it hasn’t passed its expiration date, that it has not been in an accident, and contact the manufacturer to make sure you will be contacted in case there is a product recall.
Myth: Parents should turn rear-facing car seats to face forward as soon as they think their child might be more comfortable.
Fact: It is recommended that you keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least a year old and weigh 20 lbs, but many pediatricians advise their patients’ parents to maintain the rear-facing position for longer than that. A 2007 study shows that the risk of severe injury is 5.32 times higher in forward-facing seats than in rear-facing seats in children 12-23 months of age.
Myth: The booster seat is nice, but not necessary.
Fact: This myth is rampant, as only 20% of kids between 4 and 8 ride in a booster seat, despite the recommendations of safety experts. Think about where the shoulder strap of the seatbelt in your car hits your child. Does it cross over their neck instead of over their chest, as it would on an adult? If it does, it is not restraining your child properly. A booster seat elevates your child slightly, in order to make sure the seat belt is securing them in the right spot.
If your family, or any families you know, are falling prey to a car seat myth, revisiting safety guidelines is an important way to make car rides safer for kids, whether they’re in infant seats, toddler seats, or booster seats.
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