As a parent, it’s your duty to look out for the safety of your child. This involves ensuring that your child’s environment and any situation that he/she might be in is secure. This includes situations within the house as well as those outside. One less talked about topic is car seat safety. In a country like ours, where sitting in traffic takes up more time than anything else we do, this topic will prove to be extremely relevant to you and your child.
Here is what you need to know about car seat safety.
1. What is it?
Using a car seat to protect your child when in a vehicle is car seat safety. A car seat is basically an attachable seat that can be installed in your car. It is specifically made for child to sit in. It has specific belts and buckles that are generally suited for children, as the normal seat and belt might be too big and loose and therefore, inefficient in the case of an accident.
2. Why is it necessary?
Road accidents are common causes of death and injury, not just in our country, but around the world. As a parent, your first priority must be to protect your child from potential harm, and this includes harm that could be inflicted upon your child when in transit. Car seats are specifically designed keeping in mind the size, age and weight of children to ensure maximum safety and security. In the event of a crash/accident, these child security seats ensure that your child faces minimal harm/injury. This is especially important because babies are physically sensitive and not as sturdy as adults, thus requiring extra protection. It also ensures that your baby is strapped in the car at all times, preventing injuries that could occur due to sudden braking, sharp turns and speed-breakers.
3. What type of car seat should you get?
When buying a car seat, it’s important to make sure you purchase it from a trusted manufacturer. Ensure that it has been well tested and that it meets standard requirements for child security seats. Remember that for very young infant, the safest option would be to sit in the back (mandatory) and have an adult sitting in the back who is well buckled. There are different types of car seats you can purchase depending on the age of your child. There are primarily 3 types of seats - rear facing, forward facing and booster seats. Rear facing seats are best suited for infants and toddlers, forward facing seats are best suited for toddlers and children going to preschool, and booster seats are typically used when children reach the age when they go to primary school.
4. How to install it?
The safest place to install a car seat is in the middle of the back seat, as this minimizes the impact of an accident. The seats should always be installed in the back of the car. If installed in the passenger side, the airbag could prove to be fatal due to the pressure with which it engages. Ensure that your car seat is installed by professionals and have it tested before your child uses it. These seats can either be installed using a latch mechanism or the seat belts in the car; this depends on the type of car you own.
5. How to prep your child?
When making your child sit in the car seat, make sure the clothes that he/she are wearing aren’t too thick. More thickness would mean that the straps might be loose, which would reduce the efficiency of the car seat. If needed, you can wrap a blanket or shawl around your baby over the straps. Ensure that the buckles and belts are snug and tight. This might mean that you’ll have to deal with your children complaining that the straps are too tight (probably a good time to teach them “safety first!”). The chest clip should align with your baby’s armpits, not neck or abdomen. The straps should lie flat without twisting, as this could mean discomfort for your child as well as possible looseness of the straps. Use the harness according to the manual provided and remember that it is (or should be) adjustable to accommodate changes in your growing baby.
Car seats don’t last forever. They, like most commodities, tend to wear out. Remember to not buy an old car seat or one that has any cracks or other defects, as these could make the seat give way in the event of sudden extreme force as is experienced when in an accident. Make sure you check it regularly to see whether or not it needs replacing. Also, make sure to change the car seat according to the requirements of your child (changing from rear facing to forward facing to booster seats).
7. Common mistakes
Keep in mind that there are many common mistakes that parents tend to make when it comes to child seat safety. For example, not doing any research on the history of the car seat and the manufacturers, installing in the wrong spot, incorrect buckling, strapping, and reclining, making their children wear the wrong type of clothing, and moving on to the next type of seat too soon.
Keep these in mind and make sure to do your research and follow the correct instructions in order to avoid making these mistakes and/or more. Ensure maximum safety during a car ride. Happy Driving!