Car seat safety: Common mistakes parents make that put kids at risk

Posted at 3:04 PM, Jan 16, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Many kids spend a lot of time in the car, but do you know how to keep them safe while you're out on the road?

According to Safer Ride for Kids , a child is almost four times more likely to get hurt in a crash if they are not correctly secured in their car seat. In 2016, statistics show 35 percent of the more than 700 kids under the age of 12 who died in a car crash simply were not buckled in right.

Experts at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida, said some parents are not putting their kids in their car seat correctly and they don’t even know it.

Sally Kreuscher, the Safe Kids coordinator at the hospital, said the common mistakes parents make are: using the wrong car seat for their kid, installing the car seat incorrectly, facing their kid’s car seat in the wrong direction and not securing their kid in the car seat properly.

After you strap your child in, Kreuscher said you really need to double check the car seat. If you can move it more than an inch side to side, the car seat is too loose, which would make it unsafe for your child. “You want the harness straps to be flat and snug over a baby’s shoulders,” said Kreuscher. “If it’s too loose, what will happen in a crash is that it will slide over the baby’s shoulders and baby could be ejected. If the chest clip is too low, it could cause some internal injuries in the stomach.”

Statistics show that using the car seat correctly can reduce the risk of death by up to 70 percent.

Experts suggest not using a used car seat or one with missing labels because it could be unsafe. They say car seats actually expire after six or seven years.

According to Florida State Law , kids 4 years old and younger always need to be in a car seat. Once a child outgrows the height and weight limit of that car seat, they can move on to a booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Experts said some parents are using the wrong car seat for their child’s age, height and weight, but there’s an easy way to find out what fits your child best. “How to find out if the car seat fits your child? Look at the labeling information,” said Kreuscher. “Every car seat has a label.”

Once you pick the right car seat, you need to know how to buckle up your kids correctly.

In 2011, more than 200 kids were killed in crashes because they were not strapped in right.

Make sure the straps are tight enough and the car seat is installed correctly. If you need any help, contact a nearby certified car seat technician to inspect it. It’s a free service.

There comes a time when parents finally allow their kids to sit up front. But if you’re in a crash, the air bag is meant to hit your chest. Experts say some parents are allowing their kids to sit up there way too soon because when that air bag goes off, it’s hitting their kids face instead.

Experts also said kids under the age of 13 should always sit in the back seat.

With everything else, kids copy what adults do. So if you always buckle up, kids will too as they get older.