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Install a Car Seat Correctly: Save a Child

A Car Seat Won’t Save Your Child Unless It’s Installed Correctly

Last week, a little 6-year-old child died in a single vehicle accident from severe head trauma. News reports state that the evenflo infant car seat was not installed correctly. The report was quick to also mention that it had not been determined if the car seat installation was a factor in her death, but it brings up a good question. Do you have your child’s car seat installed correctly?

evenflo infant car seat

Traveling Toddler Car Seat Travel Accessory
Traveling Toddler Car Seat Travel Accessory

This article is going to focus on infant and toddler car seats as opposed to booster seats for older children.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “car crashes are the number killer of children 1 to 12 years old in the United States.” One of the ways to protect children, besides choosing the right car seat for their age and size, is to make sure that the car seats are installed properly. And that’s not always easy.

As many as 3 out of 4 car seats are not used correctly. That’s according to Parents Central. Some of that is due to parents not realizing how a correctly installed car seat looks and feels. And some of that comes from the frustration in getting that car seat in there tightly. Personally, it was one of the most frustrating things I ever had to do, and I dreaded doing it each time. Putting a car seat in correctly is not as simple as putting the seat in the car and securing it with a seatbelt or latch system. A correctly installed car seat should not budge even after a good hard shove. It should be practically immobile.

DMV.org states, “If you can move any strap, harness, or the entire seat itself more than an inch, then you probably need to put some more elbow grease into pulling the seat belt or ensuring the straps are appropriately taut.” One of the things parents need to do is put as much downward pressure on the seat as they are securing it. While Parent Control offers directions on how to install car seats, DMV.og offers tips to make that installation successful.

As a parent, I tried many of those techniques. Which ones worked depended on the make and model of the car. Often, my husband and I had to allow anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to put the seat in correctly. However, all the frustration was worth it because we had peace of mind that we did all we could to keep them safe while in the car.

If you need the help, it’s there. NHTSA offers a page that helps you locate a child car seat inspection station: Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator. One of my friends, after speaking to me, made an appointment with the state police, and they took the time to look at her installation and showed her how it needed to be. These guys were professionals, and it took quite a bit of time and effort because of the design of her car. She was amazed at the difficulty, but when it was over, she realized how much more secure and safe her daughter was in the car.


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