Cindi Delaney, of the 22nd Services Squadron, is trained and certified by the National Safe Kids Campaign and offers some tips parents should think about when buying, installing and using their car seat.
When buying a car seat, parents should choose a seat that works for them, and one way of determining which car seat will fit their car is to read the car manual, Ms. Delaney said.
“Not all car seats will fit in all cars,” she said. “Some stores will take the car seat out to your car so you can check to see if it fits before you buy it.”
Parents should also be sure the car seat is suitable for their child’s age, weight and height. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site at www.dot.gov has a chart parents can use to determine which seat would work best.
“It is recommended that children use a seat restraint until they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall,” Ms. Delaney said.
After finding the perfect fit, some parents may want to buy some seat accessories but should steer clear of accessories that did not originally come with the car or car seat that includes seat belt locks and tighteners.
“Any accessory that doesn’t come with your car seat or car is not safety certified, so I would not recommend using it,” Ms. Delaney said. “There are no safety regulations for these products.
“If ( people ) use any of these accessories and get in a car accident, the car or the car seat manufacturer liability may be void,” she said.
To avoid misuse of car seats, Ms. Delaney recommends parents read the car seat manual before use and mail in the registration form in case of a recall.
Another challenge for parents is the proper installation of the car seat.
“When the car seat is strapped in, you should not be able to move the car seat more than an inch in either direction,” Ms. Delaney said.
Rear-facing car seats should be at a 45-degree angle.
“This can be fixed by placing a folded towel or a swim noodle between the car seat and the seat of the car,” Ms. Delaney said.
Once the car seat is properly installed a common mistake is leaving the straps too loose when securing the child in the seat, Ms. Delaney said.
“The straps should not be too tight, but not allow too much slack,” Ms. Delaney said. “Also, the retainer clip should be at armpit level.”
According to Newton’s law of motion, objects in motion remain in motion at original speed until acted on by an outside force.
“If you don’t properly use the car seat, the outside force could possibly be the windshield or pavement,” Ms. Delaney said.