Many parents find it challenging to install their child’s car seat. That could be one of the reasons many car seats are installed incorrectly. Here are recommendations on how to do it correctly and as safely as possible.
Car seats play a big part in keeping your child safe. Unfortunately, studies show as many as four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly, be it due to loose latch straps, twisted webbing, or using the wrong seat based on a child’s height and weight.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Before installing your child’s car seat, read your vehicle owner’s manual and car seat manual. Both will have advice on the best way and location to secure your car seat to your vehicle seat.
INSTALL YOUR SEAT CORRECTLY
Installing the car seat can be done using a seat belt or LATCH system. Nearly all passenger vehicles and all car safety seats made on or after 1 September 2002 are equipped to use LATCH. Vehicles with the LATCH system have lower anchors located in the back seat, where the seat cushions meet. Tether anchors are located behind the seat, either on the panel behind the seat, or the back of the seat, ceiling or floor. All forward-facing car safety seats have tethers or tether connectors that fasten to these anchors.
Both the LATCH and seat belt installation methods are equally safe to use, so parents can choose the one they are most comfortable with.
Check your vehicle or car seat manual to see when using the LATCH method of installation is no longer allowed. Many car seats can be installed with LATCH until the child weighs about 20kg. Once your child exceeds that weight, it is no longer safe to secure the seat and your child using this method.
PROPERLY SECURE THE HARNESS STRAPS
Loose straps can cause a child to slip out of their car seat during a sudden impact, resulting in injury or death. One way to check if your child is properly secured is to do a ‘pinch test’. Using your thumb and index finger, pinch the fabric on the strap. If you can’t pinch the fabric together, your child is secured properly.
Some car seats include an audible click to advise parents when the straps are tight enough. Even if you hear the click, make sure your straps are properly positioned on your child and tighten the straps a little more to be sure you have the best fit.
POSITION THE CHEST CLIP CORRECTLY
The position of the chest clip makes a difference in ensuring your child is fully protected during a collision. If the clip is too high, your child may choke or have their airways blocked or injured during an impact. A clip that is too low may result in your child being ejected from the seat. The chest clip needs to rest on the strongest part of the chest, the sternum.
Should you have doubts or just want to be safe and learn more, you can consult a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. You can find contacts on KK Women and Children’s Hospital website at https://www.kkh.com.sg/patient-care/conditions-treatments/buckle-up-safely.