As a parent, you invest a lot of time and energy strategizing how to protect your child from harm and danger. Keeping your little one safe means being prepared for common situations that pose possible risks to your child's wellbeing. If you've ever wondered, "how much will a car sear really protect my child in an accident," then you're asking the right questions. Because knowing how to properly install and use a car seat has a huge impact on its ability to protect your child in a crash.
With so many options on the market geared at protecting kids from harm, it's difficult to know just how effective each product can be. But car seats are a non-negotiable item that every child needs to stay safe while riding in any vehicle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, road traffic injuries are one of the leading causes of child injury, and a parent's best bet in protecting against this type of harm is to understand safety guidelines, appropriate use, and proper installation of car seats. According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, most parents make at least one error when installing car seats.
If you buy a new car seat, instructions on how to install the seat will be included in the packaging; but even if you strictly follow every step, you can still have a professional take a look at your work. Use a database like the one Safe Car provides, which allows you to search by state and zip code to find a certified car seat inspector. (Bonus: most of these services are provided for free.)
If, however, you have a car seat that has been used, you'll need to do some research before allowing your child to ride in it. To make sure a used car seat will keep your child safe in an accident, you'll want to check National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's database of car seat recalls and safety issues, to see if your particular model still meets current safety standards.
Aside from installation and use history, in order for a car seat to perform its duties, it needs to be the right fit for you child's weight, size, and age, as Kids Health from Nemours explained. As your child grows, their car seat will move from the rear-facing position to a forward-facing position — and following the guidelines for each position is a crucial piece to travel safety. Additionally, placing a car seat in the right spot further protects your child, should an accident occur, according to Mayo Clinic. Car seats placed too close to an airbag pose additional threats of harm when car crashes happen.
According to the American Pediatric Association's website, Children's Health, "proper use of car seats helps keep children safe." So the degree to which you child is protect by a car seat in an accident depends greatly on how appropriately it's being used and installed. Following guidelines and having a certified inspector look over the car seat is the smartest and most comprehensive approach to avoiding injury from car crashes.