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The most wonderful time of the year…for car seat geeks!

It’s Child Passenger Safety Week! As a certified child passenger safety technician instructor this week is about as exciting as Christmas! (You know I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a safety nerd!).

In all seriousness, it’s a great week to doublecheck your child’s car seat to make sure he or she is riding as safe as possible and if you haven’t already, take advantage of the car seat checks available in our community.

According to the data we collect at local car seat checks – roughly 90 percent of car seats are not installed correctly.

Does that scare you that your car seat might fall into the 90 percent category?

Here are a few things to quickly check to make sure your child is riding safely:

  • Is the car seat facing the correct direction? The new AAP guidelines encourage children up to 2 years of age or 35 pounds to ride rear-facing. Past blog posts have discussed the reasons for this.
  • Does the harness enter the car seat at the right place?  If your child is riding rear-facing then the harness should be at or below his or her shoulders.  If your child is riding forward-facing then the harness should be at or above his or her shoulders.  If you have a car seat where the harnesses easily move up and down as your child grows make sure the harness is right at his or her shoulders.
  • Is the harness tight?  The five point harness should be very snug so you cannot pinch any of it with your fingers. You won’t hurt your little one – but if it’s too loose her or she could come out of it in a crash!
  • Is the chest clip in the right spot?  The chest clip needs to be at arm pit level on your child so that the crash force can be spread to the hard parts of the body (rib cage) versus the soft parts (abdomen).
  • Is your car seat installed tight?  The car seat, whether you are using the seat belt or the LATCH system (not both), should not move more than in inch side to side.  If your seat is looser than that you should check your instructions again and definately check out a local car seat check!

In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week take a few minutes to check these items – and read your car seat instructions!  Car seats save lives – but only when they are used properly!

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.