National Child Passenger Safety Week takes place Sept. 17 – 23. Safe Kids (safekids.org) estimates that 73 percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly, and that thousands of U.S. children die in motor vehicle related incidents each year. But there’s something you can do, and that’s to make sure your child’s car seat fits appropriately and is properly installed.
3 COMMON MISTAKES PARENTS MAKE
Krista Jones, BS, CPST-1, Community Benefit/Special Projects Consultant for TriHealth, says that on average, parents make three mistakes when installing a car seat on their own. Here they are, and the solutions!
- Not Tight Enough.
Often parents fail to tighten the seat belt around the car seat properly. “The seat should not move side to side more than an inch,” says Jones. She suggests parents apply pressure to the car seat and pull the seat belt back into the seat belt retractor to remove any extra slack. She also reminds parents that over time, bases on infant seats can become loose, and to have the seat checked periodically.
- Loose Straps.
“Once the child is in the seat, there should be no extra slack with the harness,” says Jones. She advises to use the pinch test when checking the snugness of the harness. “You should only be able to pinch a small part of the harness’ fabric. If you can pinch too much, it’s too loose and you need to tighten it.”
- Not Rear-Facing.
It was believed that children could ride forward-facing after their first birthday, according to Jones, but recent research and revised safety standards suggest children should remain rear-facing until age 2.
“Kids develop at different stages,” Jones reminds us, “so some may still need to ride rear-facing past the age of 2.” Bottom line: if your car seat can keep your kid rear-facing even after 2 years, stay rear-facing.
Jones advises parents they can get their car seat checked for free by a certified technician. “There are more than 30 places now to call,” she says, adding that many of them are at your local police or fire department. You can also call Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Comprehensive Injury Center’s number to schedule a car seat check at 513-803-7433 or visit cincinnatichildrens.org/ccic to find a fitting station near you. Technicians will make sure parents feel comfortable installing the seats themselves, so it’s well worth a few minutes of your time. “Everyone leaves 100 percent safer than when they arrived,” she says.
CAR SEATS FOR SPECIAL NEEDS
Parents with special needs children can rest assured that there are multiple technicians in the area who have extra training to help with car seats. According to Donna Laake, RN, Injury Prevention Coordinator with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), technicians apply for an intensive course developed by Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health that instructs them on the correct installation of car beds, vests or other special devices. CCHMC also offers demo seats and can arrange consultations with your OT or PT, according to Laake. Visit cincinnatichildrens.org/ccic for more info.