The leading cause of death to children between the ages of three and 14 in the U.S. is car accidents. While car seats can help reduce the number of children injured in car accidents, if they aren’t used properly, the car seats can actually do more harm than good.
Getting to know the most common mistakes made with car seats can help parents reduce the potential of serious injuries and fatalities if a car accident were to occur.
It is required that babies ride in a car seat that faces the rear of a vehicle until they reach one year old and/or weigh a minimum of 20 pounds or more. Unfortunately, approximately 25 percent of parents turn their child’s car seat forward much sooner than they should. In a rear facing car seat, the child’s entire head, neck and back are supported. When it is turned to face forward, they are only being restrained by the harness strap, losing the neck and head support. This increases the risk of a neck or spinal injury significantly.
When a person jiggles the car seat after the safety belt has been pulled through and buckled, it is important to take note of how much it moves. If the char moves any more than an inch in any direction, then it is too loose. The fact is, there are several anchors on modern car seats to ensure they are secured to the vehicle. These all need to be used to ensure the car seat doesn’t move excessively, putting a child at risk for injuries if a car accident were to occur.
The seat has to be reclined enough so the child in it won’t flow forward too much; however, no more than 45 degrees from being vertical. If the child is positioned at an angle larger than that, they may be thrown out between the harness or straps, headfirst. This may cause serious injuries and even death if a car accident occurs.
It is important that the straps are tightened so that the slack left in them is unable to be pinched by an adult’s forefinger and thumb. If the straps are easily moved, a child can get their arms from under them, resulting in them being thrown from the seat if a car accident occurred. Also, never put a child in the car seat harness with a large winter jacket or blanket on. This leaves too much slack and increases the risk of an injury during a car accident.
When a child is still in a rear facing car seat, the straps should be in the slot that is just below or right at the shoulder. In a forward-facing position, the straps need to come through the top slots, unless the instructions say something different.
The injuries that may occur during a car accident if a child’s car seat is not properly installed or used are severe. If your child has been injured in a car accident that was the fault of someone else, you should contact the team of attorneys from Fetterman & Associates by calling 561-845-2510 for help.
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