Last week we wrote about a tragic accident with a silver lining, when a child safety seat saved the life of a baby in the back seat. The proper use of a child safety seat frequently saves lives or reduces the severity of injuries to the most vulnerable passengers: young children. However, even a safety seat will not make a difference if it isn’t used correctly—or if it’s the wrong kind for your child. Here are tips on choosing and using the right child safety seat.
1. Choose an age-appropriate seat: Not all child car seats are meant for the same age group. Generally there are different seat designs for infants, toddlers, and older children, sometimes dividing older children into two additional age groups. All child safety seats are designed to fit the age group in question, and may be useless or even dangerous to older or younger children. Choose the right one for your child’s age and add a reminder to your calendar for when it’s time to get a bigger one.
2. Learn how to use it: With three to four age groups and dozens of manufacturers, there are more than a few car seat designs out there—often with numerous buckles or straps. Some child car seats even face “backward,” with the child looking to the rear of the vehicle. The days of simply taking the seat out of the box and strapping it in are gone; make sure that you carefully read the setup instructions and secure your child properly every time.
3. Use It: It may seem obvious, but a kid seat does no good unless the kid is in the seat. Securing your child can take extra time, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to skip it for “short” trips. Many car accidents happen close to home on familiar roads, and car accidents are the No. 1 cause of death of children ages 1-8. Take the extra minute to secure your child in their safety seat, every time.
4. Keep Using It: Another common mistake of parents is to discontinue using child seats before their child is old enough. Safety experts recommend using child car seats all the way up to age 12. If that seems too old to you, bear in mind that the reason kid seats save lives is because they help children fit safely into seats that are sized for adult bodies. Until the teenage years, most children are still too physically small to fit without that added seat. That means an adult seat belt has reduced effectiveness.
Used properly—and consistently—a child seat can save your child’s life or spare them from lifelong disabilities. Have you or your family been involved in an accident? Contact Steinger, Iscoe & Greene for a free discussion of your legal options today.