Without a doubt, car seat safety is paramount when traveling with little ones. Studies show that the risk of death for children is reduced by 71% if they are properly secured in a child safety seat that has been correctly installed. The problem is, more than half of cars seats are not installed or used correctly. Here are some important tips for car seat safety that will help ensure your most precious cargo stays safe. 
 
Place your child in the correct car seat
Car seats and boosters are designed for use by children of specific ages and weights. It is important to make sure you place your child in a seat that fits the specifications for his or her weight and age. There are a variety of car seats on the market including convertible ones that are designed to be adjusted so you can continue to use them as your child grows. Research car seats before you make a purchase so you can be confident you are making the most appropriate decision for your child.
 
Use booster seats at the right time
Once your child outgrows a car seat, it will be time to move to a booster seat. For children, this is an important milestone as it helps them feel more like “big kids.” For parents, it can be freeing to use a booster seat as it is less cumbersome and easier to move a booster seat from car to car. However, as tempting as it may be, it is important that you do not start using a booster seat too soon or stop using them too soon. For children to safely use a booster, they must weigh 40 pounds and be at least four years old. They also need to be mature enough to sit properly in the seat and not play with the seat belt. Children should stay in a booster seat until they are four feet nine inches in height and are eight to twelve years of age.
 
Keep child rear-facing as long as possible 
Rear-facing is the safest direction for children when riding in a car seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends children stay rear-racing as long as possible, up to the top height or weight limit allowed by their rear-facing or convertible car seat. Babies typically outgrow their infant car seat before age one, but a convertible car seat is a good option that can be used rear-facing, and then eventually front-facing when the time is right.
 
Center car seat placement is best
The center, back seat is typically the safest place for a child to ride in a car and the ideal place to install a car seat. Children are less likely to hit their head or take a direct hit if they are seated in the center seat during an accident. If you have two or more children, put the youngest child in the center seat as their less developed bodies are more vulnerable. It is also recommended that you check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to confirm the safest placement in the vehicle for your child’s car seat.
 
Proper car seat installation
In order for your child to be as safe as possible in a car seat, it must be properly installed. Carefully read the manual and follow each step to make sure you get a secure fit. If your car is a 2001 model or newer, make sure you utilize your car’s LATCH system. LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children and consists of parts in the vehicle and on the car seat that ensures a car seat is securely installed. After installing a car seat, it is always a good idea to have a trained technician make sure the installation is secure. Check seatcheck.org and enter your zip code to find a trained technician near you. 
 
Make sure car seat straps fit snug
Unfortunately, most children ride in car seats with straps that are too loose. Although children are likely to complain they are too tight, it is important to make sure the straps fit snug to the body. To know if a harness is tight enough, it must pass the pinch test. Try to pinch the webbing vertically at the child’s shoulder. If you can grasp any material between your fingers, it is too loose. It is also important to remove coats and bulky clothing before placing a child in a car seat as these items can prevent the straps from protecting the child in case of an accident. 
 
What to know about expiration dates and accidents?
Did you know that car seats have an expiration date? If you receive one from a friend or purchase one at a consignment sale, make sure it has not been in an accident and it has not expired. Car seats are made of plastic which gets brittle with age, making it potentially not strong enough to withstand a crash. The expiration date or manufacture date will be on the car seat. Most car seats are manufactured to last six to eight years. You can look up your specific model of car seat to see how many years it is made to last before expiration. If the car seat has been in an accident, then do not accept it. If a car seat you own is ever in an accident, the safest thing to do is to discard it and purchase a new one. 
 
Volvo has a long-standing reputation for manufacturing some of the safest automobiles on the road. We care about keeping you and your family safe while riding in your Volvo. To learn more about car seat safety, visit the NHTSA website.
Categories: Lifestyle