This post is part 3 of 4 of Happikiddo’s “Buckle Up No Excuse” road safety series. #buckleupnoexcuse
We thought we got it right all the while but studies have shown that 9 out of 10 car seats are not used correctly. Are you making one of these mistakes…unknowingly?
Mistake #1: Placing children in front of an airbag
Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an air bag. All children aged 12 and under should be buckled up in the BACK SEAT. If possible, buckle them up in the middle of the back seat because it is the safest spot in the vehicle.
Mistake #2: Getting a preloved carseat without cross-checking
That preloved car seat you scored at a Facebook preloved group or got as hand-me-down from your sister might seem like a steal, but it could cost your child his life. With time, the plastic materials on car seats loses its sturdiness and begins to deteriorate from ever-changing weather conditions as well as regular wear and tear. Also, used seats usually don’t come with the manufacturer’s manual which is important for correct installation, or they could be missing important parts, have been involved in an accident, or have been previously recalled due to faulty design.
If your budget is limited and a preloved seat is the only thing you can afford for now, make sure it has the original manual, with all parts intact, has never been involved in an accident, and hasn’t been recalled. Check the expiry date on the bottom of the car seat too; it’s usually six years from the production date.
Mistake #3: Transiting your child to forward-facing or booster too soon
A head-on car crash can cause a child’s head to jerk forward suddenly and violently, resulting in spinal injuries. As babies and children have weaker necks, it’s best to keep your toddler rear-facing as long as possible until two years or when he/she reaches the seat’s maximum rear-facing height and weight limits. Same for booster seat.
Mistake #4: Installing your car seat wrongly
Among the most common mistakes include routing seatbelts incorrectly, not putting seatbelts in lock mode and using BOTH the lower anchors of the latch system and the seatbelt. Parents tend to connect the lower anchors and tethers of the latch system to the wrong points in the car, especially cargo hooks, forgetting to use the tether at all or not putting enough weight on the seat as it is being installed. The easiest way to avoid these mistakes is to ensure that you read BOTH your car seat’s manual and your car’s manual properly before installing.
Mistake #5: Fitting the harness incorrectly
Most parents worry about their child’s comfort when they snap them in but making it snug is a much safer choice, and definitely not uncomfortable. To make sure the car seat harness straps are snug enough to hold your child firmly in the event of an accident, straighten the harness straps, adjust it to fit one finger between your child’s collarbone and strap. The chest clip should be even with the armpits. No other add-ons such as car seat covers and head positioners should be placed on the car seat too.
Mistake #6: Not using the tether to buckle the car seat to the car
Most forward-facing car seats come with a strap to use as an anchor point in the car. Tethering the seat gives extra protection, helping to prevent head and neck injuries to children if there is an accident.
Mistake #7: Not using the car seat consistently
Are you guilty of forgoing the car seat once in a while? You were probably thinking: “We were only going to the shop nearby …” “She doesn’t like her car seat, so just this once …” “He was having a meltdown, so I just had to calm him down.”
Maybe someone without a car seat offered you a ride home. Maybe you were trying to squeeze one extra child into a car that already has two car seats and no room for more. Whatever the reason – whatever the excuse -it should stop now, simply because 60% of crashes involving children happen within 10 minutes from home. More than 75% happened when the speed limit is 70kmh or less, and almost ALL of them happened when the driver is familiar with the route. Bottom line is, never compromise with your kids’ safety – their lives are undoubtedly more important than saving a little time or convenience.
Mistake #8: Holding your baby on your lap
It might seem like the easiest and quickest way out when you’re in a rush, carpooling or when baby is having a tantrum, but the truth is that even if you’re buckled up, the impact of a crash can still cause your child to be thrown out of your hands and car. Even if both of you are belted together, your weight could actually crush your child to death.
Yes, it’s indeed stressful to hear your child crying and probably inconvenient to take your own car as opposed to hopping into someone else’s, but never let moments of misjudgments cause a lifetime of regrets. NEVER SAY NEVER, this should be one thing you don’t compromise on.
Mistake #9: Letting your child sit in the front seat
Front seat is a big NO-NO for children, not until they are at least 13 years old. Should you get into an accident, your child has a smaller chance of hitting the windshield back there. Also, she’ll avoid getting injured by an airbag that inflates rapidly.
Mistake #10: Getting the wrong car seat for your child’s age, height and weight
Choosing a car seat can be overwhelming and though many parents try their best, we still get it wrong at times. Before you buy, do your research on seats that fit your child’s age, weight and height. Seek help from store assistants or talk to experienced parents. Check the manual periodically to know when it’s time to move on.
It’s time we get it right. Buckle up, no excuse!