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How To Properly Install Your Child’s Car Seat


A car wreck of any severity is a frightening experience, but when a small child is also in the vehicle, this feeling is amplified. Kids are especially susceptible to injury in the event of an auto accident, often due to inadequate or improper restraint. In 2011, nearly 150,000 US children were harmed in wrecks. Furthermore, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as many as 72 percent of child restraint systems are not being used properly.

Not all car seats are appropriate for all children. Height and weight will determine which seat is best, meaning that while one child may be ready to move up to a booster seat, another child of the same age may not. Determining which option is best and how it should be installed can be confusing, and unfortunately, parents often choose incorrectly. Here are a few guidelines that, when followed, can help ensure your child’s safety in the vehicle:

  • Don’t Ignore the User’s Manual – Car seat manufacturers will supply guidelines with any new seat purchased. In this manual, you will find everything you need to know about proper seat placement, as well as step-by-step installation instructions. By following these, you can ensure that you don’t overlook any critical steps.
  • Determine Ideal Seat Placement – Check the owner’s manual for your particular vehicle. Most will make suggestions for ideal child restraint placement for that make and model. If this information is not available to you, the center of the back seat is a safe bet. This placement gives your child the minimal amount of impact in the event of a collision and offers a 43 percent lower risk of injury over other car seat placement positions.
  • Check the Harness – The straps and harness on car seats are often adjusted too loosely. To ensure that this isn’t the case for yours, attempt to pinch the strap between two fingers after your child has been buckled. If you are able to do this, the straps should be tightened. Another common mistake is placing the actual harness clip too low. This piece is meant to protect the chest and should be kept level with the armpits in order to work effectively.
  • Tighten the Straps – A frequent mistake by parents is not securing their child’s car seat tightly enough. You should not be able to wiggle the seat back and forth. If you are able to move the seat by more than an inch in any direction, it needs to be secured more snuggly.
  • Keep it Rear-Facing – While there will come a time when your child’s car seat needs to be turned to a forward-facing position, most parents make this transition too soon. Some may transition their child at one year of age, but unless they have reached both the recommended height and weight requirements, it should wait. The earliest age to turn a seat without having met these requirements should be 24 months.

We understand that keeping your child safe is a top priority. Unfortunately, in the event of an auto accident, there are very few factors in your control. Knowing that your child is in the appropriate car seat and is properly restrained can give you peace of mind that they will remain safe during a wreck. Follow the few tips above and go a step further by having your car seat checked and a local inspection station.

At Spencer Calahan Injury Lawyers, the safety of you and your loved ones is our top concern. If you have recently been involved in an auto accident that resulted in injury, contact our office for a free case evaluation with a professional attorney. With over 100 years of combined experience, our attorneys have the skill necessary to best handle your case. Simply click here, or call us directly at (225) 387-2323.