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Car Seat Safety Checklist

January 4, 2012

I was asked to do a write up on car seat safety for a non profit organization here in Spokane called Bloom. I’m excited to be featured on their blog and in a pamphlet coming out in February! Hopefully thousands of people will get this information and learn a little, not just on car seat safety, but on better birth options too! Anyway I wanted to share my blurb with everyone on my blog, so here it is! Take ten minutes to make sure your precious cargo is safe!!

* First and foremost, NEVER use an expired car seat! There are reasons for the expiry date! Plastics do wear down and the Styrofoam can disintegrate over the years causing the seat to fail in the event of a collision. It is also worth mentioning to never buy or take (even for free) a used car seat from someone you do not know. You will never know for sure if that car seat has been in a collision or not. Replace your car seats with brand new ones even after a minor collision. Even a small impact can cause the car seat to fail in a subsequent collision and your child could be severely injured or even die. It’s not worth the risk!

* Always read the safety information booklet that comes with every car seat! Sounds like a no-brainer but it’s surprising how many people think they don’t need to read it. It’s there to help you keep your babies safe! A car seat is only as good as the installation!

4 out of 5 car seats in the US are not used safely/installed correctly! That is beyond scary! Please get your car seat checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. They can help you with installation and any questions/concerns you may have.

* Keep your child rear facing until AT LEAST 2 years old! It’s the new recommendation by the AAP! I cannot stress enough the importance of this one. Invest in a car seat that rear faces longer. Almost every (non infant) car seat made now rear faces until 40lbs or more to accommodate the new recommendation. There is no reason (or excuse) to forward face your child before 2 years! Rear facing is 5 times safer than forward facing. Watch this youtube video on rear facing vs. forward facing and see exactly what happens to both during a collision.

* When your child is REAR facing it is very important to remember that the shoulder straps should be AT OR BELOW the shoulders in order to keep the child restrained in the event of a collision. When FORWARD facing they should be AT OR ABOVE the shoulders. The chest clip should be at armpit level and the harness straps should be snug and free of any twists.

* NEVER use aftermarket accessories in/with the car seat, ie. furry strap covers or buntings!!!!! They affect how the car seat will function (or not) in the event of a collision. Remember, if it did not come with the car seat DO NOT USE IT.

* ALWAYS remove heavy/puffy clothing before strapping a child in the car seat. Contrary to popular belief, puffy clothing will not protect or ‘pad’ your child more in a crash, it can actually be more deadly. In an impact, the force can cause the puffy clothing to compress leaving the straps way too loose to keep the child in the seat. In other words, your child can fly right out. This also applies to anything going in between the child and the car seat…those winter furry buntings!  Warm up the car in the winter when it’s cold and put your child’s heavy jacket on backwards, after they are strapped in!

* Always double check the car seat every time your child goes in. It’s worth the extra ten seconds it takes to make sure your kids are safe!

By far the most comprehensive website I have seen regarding car seat safety is: http://www.thecarseatlady.com.  I highly recommend it!

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