The Importance of Proper Car Seat Installation
95% of Car Seat Are Not Properly Installed. The most important concern most parents have is keeping their children safe. As a parent, you do everything you can to make sure your children aren’t placed in harm’s way. Yet when it comes to car seat installation, most parents are doing it wrong. At Shiner Law Group, your Boca Raton Car Accident Attorneys, we strive to provide safety tips and suggestions so your loved ones will be free of accidents or injury. A recent study of nearly 300 parents found that 95% of them made at least one major mistake while installing a car seat. Such a high figure is disturbing, especially since car seats, when installed properly, are one of the best tools you have for keeping your child protected. Let’s look at why improper car seat installation is so dangerous and what you can do about it.
Why Car Seats Matter
As car accident lawyers in Boca Raton, we see firsthand just how dangerous an improperly installed car seat can be. Child car seats are extremely effective at reducing the risk of injury or death to a child, but only if they are installed properly. In fact, a properly installed car seat, according to the Safety Council of Palm Beach County, is 71% effective at reducing injury and death. But because so many car seats are improperly installed, far too many children are placed in unnecessary danger.
How to Correctly Install a Car Seat
If you’re installing a rear-facing seat, make sure you read the instruction manual carefully. Far too many people don’t bother reading the instruction manual, which helps explain why so many car seat are improperly installed. Always place the car seat in the back seat and ensure that the seatbelt straps and/or tethers do not move more than an inch. There should also not be any twists or knots in the seat belt straps. Make sure the car seat’s base is installed at the correct angle, which can often be achieved by checking the angle indicator or built-in adjuster, if these features are present. For pre-1997 vehicles, you may require a locking clip and, if your car seat has a base, check your owner’s manual to see how to make sure the carrier handle is kept out of the way. Your child should be snug, with his or her back and bottom flat against the seat and with no more than a finger’s slack between your child and the straps.
As with rear-facing seats, only install a front-facing seat in the back seat and ensure straps and tethers are tight and not twisted. If your car seat has a LATCH system use that system so long as your child is within the weight limit. Once your child exceeds the LATCH weight limit, you will need to use a seatbelt to secure the seat. Again, please read the manufacturer’s instructions for how to properly install your child’s car seat.
Finally, with a booster seat you will need your child to be in the seat before you can properly secure it. Simply bring the seatbelt down across your child’s body like you would your own seatbelt. However, you want to make sure that the lower part of the seatbelt rests on your child’s thighs (rather than against his or her stomach), while the upper part rests on his or her chest.
Luckily, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue runs a service to help make sure you are properly installing your child’s car seat. Check out the PBCFR Car Seat Scheduler for details on when you can meet a Child Passenger Safety Technician, who will check that your car seat is properly installed, if it has been subject to a recall, and who will also inform you on proper car seat installation.
And don’t forget that if you and your family were recently involved in an accident, our team of car accident lawyers in Boca Raton are here to help. We know how devastating an injury to somebody you love–especially your child–can be. Contact us at 561-777-7700 to find out what we can do to assist you during this difficult time.