Parents do their children a favor when they sign up for free car seat installation education programs in their community. Unfortunately, safety is undermined when these events are sparsely attended. Many adults may simply believe that installation is so easy that they don’t require instruction. Still others might figure that they’ve been using a seat for years so they don’t need an update. Unfortunately, either situation could prove hazardous, but safety can be improved when parents understand the guidance on hand from a new report out of Delaware.
In families with multiple children, parents might not drop in to a car seat check because a given seat has been in the family for so long. But it’s precisely that longevity that should cause a parent to reevaluate their installation procedures and the safety of the seat itself.
In the modern age, car seats are not intended to last over six years or so. Each has an expiration date that takes into account the deterioration of components and the wear and tear that units face over the course of time. And if the seat was ever involved in some type of accident, even if it was just a minor fender bender, it needs to be replaced, as damage to the seat may not be readily apparent. These are also the reasons why selling or lending your car seat is a bad idea and why purchasing a used unit is similarly not a wise course of action.
Parents also have to be cognizant of the various other objects that are scattered around the vehicle cabin. Packing something like groceries in next to a child is a bad idea, because during a crash, these could be flung into the air and end up striking the child. By the same token, though, something like a cellphone or purse is admissible for stowing on the floor of the backseat if doing so helps you to remember to look back when transporting a child so that you don’t forget them when you exit the vehicle.
You also have to be careful with what’s attached to the car seat itself. Some parents may place toys along the handle or elsewhere to keep their children entertained during a ride, but during a crash, these could compromise safety. Even a small object could strike a child’s eyes or inhibit optimum protection in some other fashion.
The other big mistake that parents tend to make is to place bulky, heavy clothing on a child when they’re being strapped in. If it’s the winter and your child has a giant, fluffy coat on when you strap them in, there might be a large amount of air between the child and the straps. Parents may instead opt to strap the child in and then place the coat or some blankets over them.