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Three Car Seat Tips For Child Safety

Installing safety seats in your car drastically reduces the risk of injury for your children. Securing your child correctly in the appropriate seat should become as instinctive as buckling your seat belt. Sadly, many people don’t know how to properly install a safety seat or they use a safety seat that isn’t correct for their child. Read on to learn how to choose the right seat, install it correctly, and safely position your child in it.

1. Choosing the Right Safety Seat

Not every safety seat works for every child. Manufactures make different seats for children based on size and age. To help you choose a seat, consider the following:

  • Infants under one year of age require a multi-point harness and a cradle-like seat designed for maximum protection of the child’s neck and spine.
  • Toddlers aged one to three years require the same type of seat and installation as infants. Consult the manufacturer for height and weight recommendations before turning the seat to face forward.
  • Children four to seven years of age must face forward (note: children under the age of four can face forward if they exceed the seat’s height and weight recommendations). This seat should still feature a multi-point harness.
  • Children aged eight to 12 years should transition to a booster seat designed to give the child the necessary elevation to fit properly behind a shoulder belt (note: children under the age of eight who outgrow their safety seat’s height and weight requirements may also move to a booster seat). Choose a booster with a back and neck support attached for added safety.

2. Installing the Seat Correctly

When you first see the safety seat, it can be daunting. Vehicle differences dictate minor changes in installation procedures, but some basics apply. First, read all instructions. Some manufacturers print them on the seat as well. Do not guess here; your child’s safety depends on doing the installation right.

Install the safety seats in the rear seating areas, as these are safer than the front. If you can’t find your car’s anchor points, consult the manual. For maximum protection, hook the seat to all anchors as instructed and hook the seat belt through the seat. Be sure to lock the seatbelt according to the car’s manual, and tighten all anchor straps once installed. If the seat is facing forward, be sure to attach the tether strap to protect your child’s head in a crash.

3. Positioning Your Child Safely

As important as proper seat installation is correct position of your child. Remove bulky clothing and seat your child with his or her back flush against the seat. Don’t let them arch or hunch over. Don’t let the straps fold or tangle and tighten them to a snug fit. Set the chest clip to armpit level and adjust the shoulder straps to be level with or directly below the shoulders.

Taking the time to properly install the seat ensures your child has the maximum protection possible. If you are uncertain about the installation or simply want someone to help, many local fire departments offer free aid. Additionally, you could use the government’s tool to find an inspection point near you.

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