You can buy the most expensive baby car seat on the market but if it is not installed properly it is not going to protect your child. Statistics show that half of children who die in car accidents were securely strapped in but the seat itself was loose or placed at the wrong angle.
Here are some simple checks you can do to make sure that the car seat is secure and safe.
#1 – Check for a Loose Car Seat
Shake the car seat base near its belt path and see if it is secure. If it has give more than an inch to the left or right or to the side then you need to tighten it. The seat should also not slide forwards or backwards.
#2 – Is the Belt Path Correct?
Every model of baby car seat is different. You should take care to read the instruction manual that came with the seat to make sure the belt securing the seat is threaded through the right path as some car seats can have multiple paths. Do not just guess where the straps should be threaded through as you can make a common error.
#3 –Installed with vehicle seat belt and U.A.S. (Universal Anchorage System)?
Universal anchorage points are on all vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2002. Vehicles manufactured prior to this date may not have anchorage points and thus all car seats must have an installation method using the vehicle’s seat belt. Often parents are misled to a false sense of tightness by using both methods at once. The seat belt and U.A.S. installations are tested for the same impact on each and every seat, and are equally safe. Reading the vehicle and car seat manual will help you decide on which method to use, but never use both.
#4 – Is the Car Seat reclined correctly?
Rear facing infants should be reclined at a 45 degree angle. Most modern models have a built in level so it can be easily checked. Keep in mind that it is possible for a car seat to shift overtime so be sure to check the level often. Children that are not reclined correctly are not only uncomfortable but they are at increased danger in a collision or a sudden stop.
# 5 – Is the tether attached?
If your child is in a forward facing seat then make sure that you have the tether attached. The purpose of a tether is to limit the critical head movement during a sudden stop or collision. The tether strap is located on the back of the child seat and is designed to anchor to the vehicle. Do not confuse the Tether with the Universal Anchorage System, and always attach it to the allocated location according to your vehicles manual.
Your child deserves the best protection; please take the few minutes to double check your car seat before your next ride. Just a few moments of vigilance and making sure everything is in order could save your child’s life.
Mohammad is the owner and operator of Baby Car Seat Installers located in Markham, Ontario. He is a certified Car Seat Installation Technician through St John’s Ambulance. Mohammad offers free car seat inspections. Contact by phone at 1 416 882 4248 or email: Info@carseatinstallers.com Website: www.carseatinstallers.com