Four-ish Common Mistakes Made With the Child’s Car Seat
As a responsible parent, our child’s safety is of utmost importance, especially whilst in a moving vehicle. In Malaysia, the child’s car seat is not mandatory, yet many parents still take the trouble to buy and install the car seat.
Yet, alarming results from studies conducted in the USA and the UK, where the use of a child car seat is considered a no-brainer, found that the majority of parents are using the car seat incorrectly. British car magazine What Car? conducted random checks in the UK over the years 2016 and 2017, and found that 36% were wrongly installed and 33% were of the wrong size. A 2016 study by the USA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 59% of car seats were used incorrectly.
With relatively little attention paid to the awareness and education of child car seat usage in our part of the world, we can only get a wee bit paranoid about how many parents are also doing it wrong. So, here are some of the common mistakes made with the child’s car seat, and let’s all try to get it right: –
1. Not securing the car seat properly
Matching car seat to car anchor/tether points can be confusing. Car seats are secured using the seatbelt OR “purpose-built” ISOfix anchors (or LATCH in the USA or LUAS in Canada). When buying the car seat, make sure you know which!
ISOfix car seats have three points of contact with the car: two anchors on the sides, and a third at the top or via a support leg (the top anchor and support leg perform the same function of preventing forward movement).
Sometimes it is hard to find the ISOfix anchors because their locations can differ in different cars; some are labelled but not all or they look like luggage clips! At this point, it is wise to check the car manual, because you do not want to attach the connectors to the wrong anchor.
2. Not securing the car seat tightly
The car seat should not be able to move more than an inch side-to-side or front-to-back.
The seatbelt or latch holding it in place might have come loose after the last use too. Check it every time.
3. Not adjusting the harness straps properly
3a. Parents often loosen the harness straps thinking their kids would be more comfortable, but like your seatbelt, the harness must be snug. To test, pinch the strap horizontally; if there is excess material between your fingers, the harness is too loose.
3b. In a rear-facing seat, the points where the straps are attached to the car seat should be at or below the shoulders of the child. This way, if the car is in a crash, the straps will prevent the child from sliding towards the front of the vehicle.
3c. In a forward-facing seat, the points where the straps are attached to the car seat should be at or above the shoulders. This will prevent the torso from moving forward too much in the event of a crash.
3d. The chest clip must be at armpit level. Too high, you will choke the child. Too low, the child might slump in the seat.
4. Using the wrong seat.
The rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seats were each designed for a specific height and weight range. Using the wrong seat could mean a lower level of protection for the child.
Don’t fret if you find that you’ve been making some of these mistakes. Car seats are confusing! Let’s try to make travelling safer for everyone by buckling up properly, adults and children alike.