How to Properly Install a Car Safety Seat to Prevent Injury

As you buckle in your most precious possessions, your children, you want to be sure of one thing—that they are safe and sound. 

It’s a parent or caregivers worst nightmare to be driving along and happen upon an unforeseen circumstance that causes them to get into an accident. What is even worse is when that accident causes harm to the little one they love, especially if that harm is because the car seat was not installed properly. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all child-passengers are properly restrained.

If you are a first time parent or caregiver who is installing a car seat for the first time, or if you have gotten a new car seat recently, it would be beneficial for you to become acquainted with how to install it properly.

Face the Car Seat in the Right Direction

One of the first things that you need to check for when you install a car seat is that it is facing the right direction. Most pediatricians recommend, and some laws require a child to be rear-facing in a car seat until they are two years of age. However, before installing the car seat, it is best to check with your state laws as well as the height and weight recommendations on the seat instructions. Ignoring the seat height and weight requirements for which direction it should be facing could increase the risk of injury to your child in the case of an accident.

Make Sure the Car Seat is Level

To help prevent serious neck and head injuries in your infant or child, it is important to make sure that the car seat is level. On most car seats, the bottom of the seat has a leveling mechanism and display to help ensure that the seat is properly installed. Many seats also have recommendations of which level to recline the seat to keep your child safe.

Secure the Seat Properly

Once your car seat is installed facing the right direction and it is level, you need to make sure that it is properly and safely secured. Some vehicles come with lower anchors in the back seat, which you can use to help make the seat more stable. If you are using a base, there will be a place where you can put the seatbelt through and be able to tighten it. Additionally, your seatbelt may have a locking mechanism that you can use to limit the movement of the seatbelt.

Baby girl in car seat

When you are finished installing your car seat, it should be able to pass a “wiggle test.” This means that if you wiggle the car seat, it should not be able to move more than one inch in any direction.

If installing a car seat seems overwhelming to you, don’t worry. There are many locations where you can get your seat checked to make sure that it is installed properly. Additionally, many local fire departments, police stations, or hospitals hold annual or semi-annual events where you can take your car seat to get checked free of charge. Taking advantage of these services is a great choice because there is nothing more important than the safety of your child.

Booster Seats

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that booster seats reduce a child’s risk of serious injury or death during a car crash by 45 percent.

New guidelines suggest children under 4 feet 9 inches who have outgrown the child harness car seat should sit in a booster seat

  • Shorter than 4’9 needs a booster due to the placement of the seatbelt across the chest.
  • Under 13, continue to sit in the back seat even if no booster needed due to development of the spine.

Be sure to check YOUR state’s requirements along with the laws in the states you visit.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office (603) 647-2600 if you or someone you know needs assistance.  We concentrate on personal injury and workers’ compensation claims. Always a free consultation!  

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