Amidst starting to think about your New Year's resolutions, one you may not have thought about is revising your safety! Parents are often confronted by conflicting safety advice that starts even before they take their little bundles of joy home!
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides tips from selecting the right car seat to what to do with a car seat that’s been in an accident. (Hint: Car seats involved in an accident should be destroyed.)
Current car seat recommendations
The NHTSA provides the following guidelines for car seats and boosters for newborns to 12-year-olds.
Birth to 12 months: Children under the age of one should always ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat.
1- to 3-year-olds: Keep children rear-facing until they reach the height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Children who have outgrown rear-facing car seats can travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness in the back seat.
4- to 7-year-olds: Children should remain in forward-facing car seats until they reach the height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. Once a child outgrows the car seat, it’s time for a booster seat in the back seat.
8- to 12-year-olds: Children can stop using a booster seat when the seat belt fits properly. The back seat is still the safest location for children.
Installing a car seat properly
According to the NHTSA, 75 percent of car seats aren’t used correctly. Many communities have car seat inspection centers that will double-check car seat installation for free. Customers can find one in their area here.
What to do after an accident
After an accident, car seats are covered on a replacement-cost basis so our customers can purchase new, undamaged car seats for their children. Any car seat involved in an accident is considered “totaled” and should not be used.
Reusing a car seat that’s been involved in an accident can expose an infant or child to future injury. Even if the car seat doesn’t look damaged, the plastic parts of the seats could have tiny cracks that are invisible to the human eye.
So make sure when you are making your New Year's Resolutions to put checking your child's car seat on the list!