Saturday, August 18, 2007

Car Seat Safety

Anne is really too big to stuff into her infant seat any longer, and now that's she's sitting up, I don't really need it (it was nice to have it in the grocery store, but now that she's capable of sitting up without falling over, I can sit her in the cart seat--remind me to post pictures of that--she's so cute). So Brad graduated to a toddler/booster convertible seat and Anne got Brad's old seat.

I always take the car seats to be professionally installed because 90% of car seats are installed improperly, and I know I'd be one of the 90%--they're so difficult! I always take the seats to Anne Arundel Community College, where the Public Safety officers install them for me--it's free and they're so nice. After they're done, the car seats will literally not move--if you try to move them back and forth, the whole car will move! You can find free car seat installers here.

But having the car seat properly installed is just half the battle. You must also use them correctly. You'll note that both of the locking connectors are level with the children's armpits. Many people leave those down at the belly--that is dangerous and incorrect. They should almost be at the breastbone, even with the armpits.

Brad is in a forward-facing seat, so his straps come from above his shoulders. Anne, however, is under one year and under twenty pounds, so she will be rear-facing. You can tell because her straps are coming from below her shoulders. Rear-facing straps should always come from at or below the shoulders and forward-facing straps should always come from above.

You'll also notice the lack of "add-ons." The pillow Brad is resting on came with the car seat, as did the shoulder protectors on his seat. I did not add anything else--Anne does not have a pillow and there are no toys strapped to either seat. We also do not use window shades or attachments on the back of the front seats (i.e. a mirror for the children to look at). I find it ironic that such attachments are manufactured by companies like "Safety First" when in fact those things are extremely dangerous. In the event of a crash or sudden impact, your nice window shade becomes a deadly projectile. There should be no loose objects in the car (that's what the trunk is for). Brad has learned to entertain himself by looking out the window or reading a book, and Anne will do the same.

Finally, you won't know this from the picture, but both children are strapped in nice and tight. There should be no more than a finger-width of slack between the child's shoulder and the belt.

By the way, the car seat was such a novelty that Brad sat in it for about half an hour playing contentedly!


Mrs. Huse Clifton said...

My boys love it when I bring the car seats inside. They will put them infront of the TV and it looks like they are at a drive in.

startingLate said...

Love this post. I'm also very attentive to the installation and fit of my son's car seat. I am always astonished by how casually many parents treat this. I do think though that somehow the process should be easier and car seats should be a little more idiot-proof.. It's not fair to parents that there are so many rules and guidelines that can easily be overlooked so that parents who think they are doing the right thing are actually mis-using the product.