We are starting off the new year thinking about safety. We welcome guest author, Mohammad Bhorat, as he shares some great tips on safely installing a car seat.
Five Point Checklist to Ensure Proper Car Seat Installation
By Mohammad Bhorat
When selecting a car seat for your baby, keep in mind that you can purchase the most expensive car seat on the market but that will not ensure your baby’s safety. What will make your baby safe is the proper installation of the car seat. Statistics show that half of the children who die in car accidents are securely strapped in but the car seat itself was
loose or placed at the wrong angle.
Here is a five point checklist to ensure proper car seat installation thereby making the car seat secure and safe:
1 – Check for a Loose Car Seat
Shake the car seat base near its belt path to see if it is secure. Follow the one inch rule for tightening. If the car seat gives more than an inch in any direction then you need to tighten it. The seat should also not slide forwards or backwards. To tighten the car seat, use your full body weight to push the car seat down into the vehicle seat cushion while you tighten the belt.
2 – Check for a Correct Belt Path
Since 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. This can be confusing as some car seats can have
multiple paths. Do not just guess where the straps should be threaded through. Check the instruction manual to avoid making this common error.
3- Check Whether You Should be Using a U.A.S. (Universal Anchorage System) or
Vehicle Seat Belt for Installation
The Universal Anchorage System is on all vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2002. Vehicles manufactured prior to this date may not have anchorage points and therefore all car seats must have an installation method using the vehicle’s seat belt. If you have a U.A.S. system you can fasten the seat belt behind the car seat especially if it is a loose belt system as found in older model cars. You can leave the seat belt unbuckled if it is automatically retracted back into the seat. Use the vehicle seat belt for installation if it is the prescribed method of use in the vehicle and car seat manual. You should use one method or the other but not both methods at the same time. Often parents are misled into 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 car seat ensuring that they are equally safe. The usage of both methods at once has not been tested and could cause too much torque on the car seat causing it to fail in a crash. Basically, by using the correct method that was intended will make your car seat safe and secure.
4 – Check if the Car Seat is Reclined Correctly
Rear facing infants should be reclined at a 45 degree angle. Most modern models have a built in level so the level 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 – Check if the Tether is 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 andis designed to anchor the car seat to the vehicle. Do not confuse the tether with the Universal Anchorage System and make sure to always attach it to the allocated location according to your vehicles manual.
Your child deserves the best protection. Please take a few minutes to double check your car seat using this checklist before your next ride. Just a few moments of vigilance to make 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