Child Car Seats: Is Your Child Safe?

Child car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash, yet car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. That’s why it’s so important to choose and use the right car seat correctly every time your child is in the car.

Child Safety Seat Standards and Requirements

There is no “one-size-fits-all” car seat option, but there are options that “grow” with the child. Infants and toddlers have different needs when it comes to safe seating than a preschooler or kindergartener.

Car seats have a five-point harness meaning that the two over the shoulder straps and two sides of the leg straps meet together in the locking mechanism. However, the five-point harness isn’t the only connection; the shoulder straps often meet over the child’s chest.

It’s vital that the chest-connection sits in line with the infant or child’s underarms. Don’t let this piece sit over the child’s stomach as it can cause injury in a car crash. Car accident attorneys in Birmingham (and frankly, all over the country) see cases where car seats are not installed or used properly, and often, the driver is unaware.

Safety standards require that the seat is used correctly, and these standards vary based on the model.

If you question whether your seat meets safety standards or if it is installed correctly, you can ask for a car seat installation or inspection. Fire departments, hospitals, and pediatrician offices frequently provide these services. Depending on your county, a local WIC office or County Health Office may provide car seat inspections as well.

Facing Forward or Backward – Which is Right?

Children are recommended to sit forward-facing, but it is based on weight and height of the child. Infants should be rear-facing for as long as possible, typically until they are two-years-old. When children outgrow the rear-facing car seat, then they can begin sitting facing forward until they are big enough for a booster seat.

Booster seats are necessary after the child outgrows the convertible or forward-facing car seat. Usually, these weight limits are between 50 and 70 pounds.

Although it’s ideal to keep children rear-facing as long as possible, it’s important to take their weight and height into consideration. Rear-facing car seats can help ensure the safety of the toddler or infant and avoid injury. But if the child has outgrown the rear-facing option, then it could lead to further injury if they are sitting incorrectly. Always consult your pediatrician if you have questions about this.

Reusing and Recycling Car Seats

Is it safe to use a hand-me-down car seat? Are used car seats legal to sell? What happens to the recycled car seats?

The answer is that it’s perfectly safe to use a second-hand car seat, to sell a used car seat, and to recycle car seats as long as they have not been in an accident and is less than six years old. Although rules have changed recently to acknowledge that not every crash requires a new car seat, it’s still not safe to sell a car seat after a crash. There is a date imprinted on the back of every car seat to indicate when the seat expires.

When your car is in an accident, the seatbelt and force of the crash may have compromised the integrity of the car seat. When buying a used car seat, always ask if they had been in an accident. In addition, be sure to check the date of the seat and if it is past its expiration, it needs to be discarded.

Contact Hare Wynn

If you were in an accident that involved injury to you or your child, contact Hare Wynn today

to schedule a case consultation with a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney in Birmingham.

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