Most parents think they’re using their child’s safety seat correctly, but statistics reveal that the majority are not. During Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 17-23), AAA Arizona wants to educate parents and guardians on the importance of correctly using vehicle restraints.
AAA wants parents to take the appropriate measures to properly secure their most precious cargo each and every time they are in a vehicle. As Child Passenger Safety Week begins, the safety advocate is revealing five common car seat mistakes to help parents and guardians avoid making them:
- Moving your child out of a booster seat too soon.
Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children. Improper seat belt fit can result in head, neck or spine injuries in the event of a sudden stop or crash. AAA recommends parents keep children in booster seats until the seat belt fits them properly. Arizona law requires children who are age 5 to 8 and 57 inches or less in height to use a booster seat.
- Not installing the car seat tightly enough.
If the seat belt or lower anchor connection is too loose, the car seat will not stay put, subjecting your child to greater crash forces. Your child’s safety seat should not move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch when tested at the belt path.
- Harness straps too loose.
If harnesses are too loose, your child will not be properly restrained in the event of a crash. This may subject your child to higher crash forces. Harness straps should lay flat and not have any twists. Be sure the harness is snug enough that you cannot pinch any extra material at the child’s shoulder.
- Retainer clip (or chest clip) is too low.
The retainer clip helps keep the child secure in the car seat in the event of a sudden stop or crash. When a retainer clip is too low, a child can come out of the harnesses or the hard, plastic retainer clip can cause abdominal injuries. Parents should always place the retainer clip at armpit level.
- Turning your child forward facing too soon.
Turning a child forward facing before age 2 can result in head, neck or spinal injuries due to their underdeveloped bodies. A child should remain in a rear-facing seat as long as possible until they reach the upper weight or height limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Once your child outgrows a rear-facing infant seat, switch to a rear-facing convertible car seat with higher height and weight limits.
– Michelle Donati is the communications manager at AAA Arizona. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.