Every year, a high number of children under age 8 are injured in car crashes, and various fatalities are also witnessed. In fact, car accidents are by far the leading cause of death for little ones.
Safety seats dramatically reduce the risk of death or serious injury in a collision. As many as half the car seats in use today are installed incorrectly.
Choosing A Car Seat For Your Toddler
Ideally the child should ride in a safety seat with a five-point harness until it weighs at least 40 pounds, or until its shoulders no longer fit under the harness straps.
A safety seat is effective only when installed correctly. The most common mistakes parents make regarding safety seats range from not buckling the car seat in tightly enough to not using the right type of seat belt to secure the child in his booster seat.
Do ensure that car seats don’t tip forward or slide from side to side more than an inch, and that boosters are secured with a lap-and-shoulder belt.
Car seat harness straps should be effective enough to hold the child firmly in the event of an accident hence the child should be buckled in such that the harness straps aren’t twisted and then use the mechanism on the front of the car seat to pull the harness tight.
You shouldn’t be able to pinch any harness fabric between your fingers. Positioning the harness height incorrectly is another mistake most parents commit. Read the car seat’s instruction manual to determine the proper harness height.
Some harnesses should sit level with the infant’s shoulders; others should be set just below. You will need to adjust the harness height as your baby grows.
Children have large heads and comparatively weak necks, so in a head-on collision a child’s head can jerk forward suddenly and violently, resulting in spinal injuries.
For this reason, infants are safest when riding facing the rear, because the back of the safety seat supports the child’s back, neck, and head in a crash. If possible, buckle the child into the middle of the backseat, where he’s best protected from side-impact collisions.
If there is a passenger-side air bag in the car, that’s all the more reason to keep the child in the back. Air bags are designed to reduce injuries in adults, but they can cause serious head and neck injuries to children when they inflate.
Toddler Car Seats – Things To Avoid
Avoid using a defective car seat or old ones, especially ones with missing parts or cracks. Completely avoid using seats that have missing labels or instructions or have been recalled, or were in a crash.
Position the chest clip correctly. Snap the chest clip at armpit level for rear-facing car seats, and at mid-chest or armpit level for forward-facing ones.
Also take note that two children shouldn’t share the same seat belt. Crash tests have shown that when two children ride buckled into one seat belt, in an accident their heads can knock together with potentially fatal force.
The safety of the little one lies totally in the hands of the parent and with some extra caution, unnecessary mishaps can be avoided.