You baby proof your home and anywhere your baby may go. But, how about your car? More than 95% of children are not safe when they're riding in cars because their car seats are not installed the right way.
That's a pretty scary thought. But, putting in a car seat is not as easy as it may seem. Lieutenant Leroy Smith with the Saraland Police Department is a Licensed Car Seat Inspector. He says there are all kinds of things that can go wrong when installing a car seat.
"The main thing we're after is the child's safety when we check seats. The main problems we find include the car seats loose or not even hooked up - they're just sitting on the seat, we find the harness loose, the straps are in the wrong positions, we find the tethers not being used when they should be," explains Lieutenant Smith.
So, here are some things to think about when you install your child's car seat:
- Make sure the car seat you have complies with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards.
- And, something new. If you use the LATCH system -- which hooks the seat directly to metal bars in your car's seats -- take a look at how much your seat weighs. New federal guidelines have changed from using just the child's weight, to now including the child's weight plus the weight of the car seat. That total needs to be less than 65 pounds. Lieutenant Smith says they are only using the LATCH system now for rear-facing infant seats. Otherwise, they use the seat belt in the car.
- Be sure you know what kind of seat belt you have. You may need a locking clip to keep the seat secure.
And, don't use a car seat:
- If the labels on it are curling. That means it's been exposed to a whole lot of heat which is not a good thing.
- Don't use it if you don't know its history.
- Make sure it's in good condition and not older than six years old.
- If it's been involved in an accident where the car had to be towed away, you probably want to look into a new seat.
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