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Car Seat Safety Part 2
March 21, 2008 5:21 pm | by
I asked Maryanne to explain some of the mistakes she sees that she listed in the first post. Some are very self explanatory, but here are her answers:

  • Facing forward too soon
How long should a child Rear Face? A child should remain rearfacing to the limits of their particular carseat. The limits being the carseat’s rearfacing weight limit AND you must ensure that they have 1″ or more of plastic shell above their head.
  • Boosters being used too soon
When is a child old enough or big enough for a booster? A good goal is to keep a child in a 5-point harness through age 4. Once a child hits age 5, a booster might be an option depending on the child’s size and maturity.
  • Using LATCH for center positions when LATCH is not allowed in the center for that vehicle
How do I know what LATCH positions are allowed? You must read your vehicle’s manual to find out which seating positions allow for usage of the lower anchors.
  • Loose straps
How tight should the straps be? If you can pinch the harness vertically between your two fingers, it’s too loose.
  • Aftermarket accessories
What are aftermarket accessories? Aftermarket products include seat protectors, infant body pillows, carseat toys, seat belt tighteners, and anything that does not come in the original box with your carseat.
  • Twisted straps (vehicle seat belts, latch straps, and harness straps)
  • Using the wrong belt path or not switching the LATCH straps (seats have different belt/LATCH paths for RF and FF)
  • Chest clips too low
Where should the chest clip be? The chest clip should be at armpit level.
  • Using seats that are outgrown
How can I tell if my child’s seat is outgrown? You must read your carseat’s manual to find the weight and height limits for your seat.
  • Seat belt installs where the seat belt is NOT locked
You must read your vehicle’s manual to find out how your seat belts lock. There are several types of seat belts and your manual can provide instructions for locking.
  • Not using top tethers
  • Using both LATCH and seat belt
Isn’t that more secure? Using LATCH and seat belts together causes all the straps to interfere with each other and, most importantly, the seat has never been crash tested that way. There is also a possibility that using both systems will double the crash force on the seat, causing it to fail.
  • Not replacing a seat after a crash
  • Expired seats
When do caresats expire? All carseat are labeled with a sticker and/or a stamp in their plastic shell indicating their expirations date. Your manual will also tell you. Most seats expire in 6-8 years.
  • Thick coats
How do you keep a child warm then? Blankets, thin fleece suits, and ponchos can be used. You can also remove a child’s coat, buckle them in, and then put their coat back on backwards.
  • Usage of seats that are recalled
How can I check and see if my seat has been recalled? The best idea is to register your seat as soon as you get it to you will be notified of a recall. An online listing is available on the NTHSA page for Defects and Recalls.
  • Children (12 and under) sitting in the front seat
  • Not reading the carseat manual
  • Not reading the vehicle manual
  • Straps not in the right position (above or below shoulders)
Where should the straps be? If your child is rearfacing, straps should be AT or BELOW the shoulders. If your child is forward facing, straps should be AT or ABOVE the shoulders. Your carseat’s manual will also have information about this, as well as directions on how to adjust the harness height.

Thank you, Maryanne for helping to taking the time to share this information and for your concern with children’s safety!

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