Here are 5 simple car seat safety checks for before you hit the road:
- Selection - Is your car seat the correct one for the age, size, and developmental ability of your child? You can quickly check the labels on the side of the car seat and the manufacturer’s manual for this information. Car seats have an expiration date – be sure to check the seat’s age (and whether it has been recalled or in a crash) to make sure it functions properly.
- Direction - Is the car seat facing the correct direction for the age, size, and developmental ability of your child? Kids should remain rear-facing until age two (if not longer), as it is the most protected position if you were to get into an accident. Forward-facing seats and booster seats should be used once appropriate (and at least until age 8, per Illinois law) to support your child as he/she grows.
- Location - Riding in the front seat seems fun for the big kids but, to remain as safe as possible, keep the “VIPs” in the back seat until age 13.
- The Inch Test - Once you have your car seat installed, can you move the seat more than an inch? If so, it is not as secure as it should be.
- The Pinch Test - Finally! The seat is installed and you are ready to go. But, is the harness fitting correctly? With all of the buckles clicked in and the retainer clip at armpit level, you should not be able to pinch the harness straps by the shoulder of your child. If you cannot grab excess webbing, you are ready for Grandma’s!
Car seats can be tricky. Still feel like you need help checking the fit and installation? Shirley Ryan AbilityLab has Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians available to help. To schedule an appointment, please contact Lauren Eckerle at 312.238.6129 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.