According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are 5 common mistakes that parents make when they strap their children into the seat that is supposed to help keep them safe while riding in the car. As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, we would like to encourage all parents to check and make sure they aren’t making these common mistakes and to participate in Child Seat Check Saturday on September 20th.
Using the Wrong Harness Slot
One of the most common mistakes parents make is that they use the wrong slot for the harness straps in their child’s seat which results in the harness straps being either too high or too low. Make sure you use the child safety seat owner’s manual to determine which harness slot is appropriate based on your individual child’s height, weight, and age.
Failure to Use the Harness Chest Clip Appropriately
The harness chest clip is a mechanism that clips the two straps of the harness that go over the shoulders together over the child’s chest. The NHTSA found that many parents are positioning this harness clip over the abdomen instead of the chest or that they simply aren’t using this part of the safety seat at all. In order to provide your child with the maximum amount of protection and to ensure the safety seat can perform adequately, this harness clip should be used every time and positioned over the chest.
Not Installing the Car Seat Appropriately
In order to protect your child in an accident, the car seat must be installed appropriately in the car. This means using the car’s restraint system to tightly secure the car seat to the seat in the car. If the car seat can move more than 1 inch from side to side after being secured with the seat belt, it is not installed properly.
Securing the Harness too Loosely
Another mistake parents make when buckling their child into a safety seat is that they leave the harness too loose. When the harness is buckled appropriately using each of the attachment points including the harness chest clip, there should be no slack between the harness strap and the child. If there is slack, the harness isn’t tight enough or it isn’t buckled properly.
Using the Seat Belt Incorrectly
All child safety seats use the car’s safety restraints or seat belts to secure the car seat in the vehicle. Some use the safety belt to secure the seat only and rely on a safety harness to secure the child. Others use the seat belt in conjunction with the safety seat to secure the child. In both scenarios, it is critical that the seat belt be used correctly. Refer to the owner’s manual for the car safety seat to ensure you are securing the seat and your child appropriately.
The best advice for all parents is to read the instructions that came with the car seat to ensure you are using it properly and bring your car to a local Child Safety Seat Check on Saturday September 20th to ensure that your child is as safe as possible whenever they are a passenger in your car.