One of the most important jobs parents have is keeping their child safe. Thousands of children die or get hurt each year in car crashes. Proper use of car seats helps keep children safe. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), car seats reduce fatal injuries to toddlers by 54 percent when installed correctly.
Car seats aren’t as easy to use as they may seem. Many parents could be putting their child at risk without even knowing it. Here are five common car seat mistakes that parents should avoid.
- The seat and/or the harness are too loose. When jiggled in the area where the seat belt is pulled through, the car seat should not move more than 1 inch in any direction. The harness straps of the car seat should be snug. If you can pinch the car seat strap between two fingers, it needs tightening.
- Child is turned face-forward too early. South Carolina law requires that children under two years of age must be in rear-facing car seats unless the child exceeds the manufacturer’s weight and height limits.
- Twisted harness straps. When car seat harness straps are twisted, they might not be tight enough to be effective in a crash. Always make sure the straps are threaded properly.
- Chest clip is not fastened or positioned incorrectly. Always fasten the chest clip. Some parents may think that having their child buckled in is enough, but it is not. The chest clip is crucial for keeping the shoulder straps in place. It is also very important where the chest clip is positioned when fastened. It should always be at the child’s armpit level. You can seriously injure a child if it is too high or too low.
- Puffy jackets and clothing. Bulky winter clothes shouldn’t be worn in a car seat. The force of a car accident can compress the fluffy clothing. The straps may have seemed snug with the winter clothing on but may be too loose to be effective in an accident.
You can find more information about car seat safety at www.healthychildren.org/carseatguide.
Did you know that Healthy Blue members can get a free car seat by going to prenatal visits? To learn how to get a free car seat for your new baby, visit our benefits page.
*The AAP is an independent organization that provides health information on behalf of BlueChoice HealthPlan.
Tiffany Carree-Clark is a social media strategist for Healthy Blue. She graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2015 with a degree in public relations and Spanish. She spent two years working with the South Carolina Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative to help youths and young adults find resources and care before joining the Healthy Blue team. Her passion is to help people have meaningful conversations. She hopes this will help bridge the gaps between communities and health care. When she’s not working, Tiffany enjoys travel and painting. She also loves to spend time with her dog, Prince.