Young children are seriously hurt or killed in car crashes across the United States every day. These tragedies are difficult to accept, but what is even more troubling is that almost half of children that died might still be alive if they had been buckled into their car seats properly, according to data gathered last year. Learning to separate car seat safety myths from fact can help you protect the life of your baby, no matter where you travel.
1. Snug Straps Cause Discomfort
You may think that snug car seat straps might be causing your baby discomfort or restricting their breathing. However, loose straps can cause a child serious harm in case of an accident. Upon impact, a baby could suffer internal injuries if he or she is thrown forward against loose straps.
To ensure your child is buckled in properly, slip your index finger in between your child’s shoulder and the belt. If you can do so easily, the belts need to be tightened. Refer to the seat’s owner’s manual to review how to adjust the straps if you have trouble.
2. Used Car Seats Are Still Serviceable
Money can be tight after you have a baby, but when it comes to buying a car seat, this is not an area in which to scrimp. Used car seats may have been damaged in crashes or by previous owners. Worn latches can fail in an accident, causing severe injury or death. Older seats may no longer meet proper safety standards and might not protect your child in case of an accident.
If you are having difficulty affording a new child safety seat, the government may be able to help you. Some states, such as Texas, have a child car seat distribution program that provides new free or low-cost seats to struggling families. You can contact your local health and human services office to find out if your state offers this program.
3. Babies Over a Year Of Age Can Face Forward
Children grow quickly, and you may think that once yours reaches his or her first birthday, it is time to turn that forward-facing car seat around. However, since facing your child in the opposite direction can lower the chances of injury during a crash, it can be safer to keep the seat in that position until your child turns two.
This myth is especially common for parents whose children outgrow their infant seats and graduate to something larger. You may want to consider buying a two-way seat, which is also known as a convertible car seat. These units can be faced safely in either direction and grow with the child until he or she is old enough for a booster seat.
4. A Car Seat Is Still Useable After a Crash
If you and your child were fortunate enough to survive a car accident unharmed, you may think your child’s car seat did so as well. However, these seats can suffer damage during a crash that is not easy to see in the aftermath and may fail during a future incident, putting your child’s life at risk.
After a crash, you may want to ask your insurance agency representative whether the company will pay for a new child safety seat. Some offer you a free seat after you pay a deductible, and others cover the cost completely. Take time to discuss this as you file your claim so you can gather all the necessary information and get help to replace your child’s seat.
Keeping your child safe while the family is driving is probably a high priority for you. Knowing how to separate myth from fact can lower the risk of his or her injury or death, from infancy to past toddlerhood.