5 things every parent should know about car seat safety

Stanford Children’s Health and Luicile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford Safetyville at Flood Park in Menlo Park, on Thursday, August 4, 2016. (Norbert von der Groeben )

Photo by Norbert von der Groeben

The Safely Home Child Passenger Safety Program offers parents the education they need to install car seats safely.

Ninety percent of parents leaving the hospital with their newborn are using car seats incorrectly for their baby’s first ride home. While car seats are among the most important item parents will buy for their child, three out of four car seats are misused. Here certified child passenger safety technicians from Stanford Children’s Heath share five things every parent needs to know about car seats and child passenger safety:

Kids are VIPs and VIPs ride in the back seat

Keep all children in the back seat of the vehicle until they are at least 13 years old. This keeps children farther away from the most common type of impact, along with the potential of being inside the airbag deployment zone. Injuries take place as the airbag inflates at rocket speed, clocking in at 200-400 mph.

The safest seat may not be the one you think it is

Make sure to choose the right car seat for your child. Check the label to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height.

Just like milk, car seats have an expiration date

Be sure to check the car seat’s expiration date, and check to see if there are any recalls for the car seat by visiting the National Highway Traffic Administration website.

Keep car seats facing the right direction

Keep children in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, but at least until age two (it’s California state law). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their manufacturer. Most convertible seats have limits that will permit children to ride rear-facing for two years or more.”

Ace the inch and pinch tests

Once your car seat is installed, give it the inch test. A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch in any direction when checked at the seat belt path. Also, you should not be able to pinch a properly fitting car seat harness together at the thighs and shoulders. You should be able to tighten it until you have the right fit.

Our bilingual car seat safety technicians are here to help. Receive tailored recommendations by attending a community car seat check event at a Bay Area Kohl’s location near you.

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