NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Four out of five child car seats are not installed correctly. Making sure your kids are in the right car seats and that they are installed properly can make a big difference.
“If they are appropriately restrained, it will reduce their risk of serious injury or death by 71-percent,” said Kevin Borrup, Associate Director of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC).
There are two different ways to put in a car seat. Some use seat belts, others use the LATCH system.
Cars made after 2002 have hooks in the seats that the car seat connects to. After hooking it up, make sure to tighten all the harnesses. Pull on the car seat with your non-dominant hand to check how tight it is. It shouldn’t move more than an inch either way.
Most infant car seats have indicators to tell you if it’s at the proper angle to protect the child’s head. After you put the baby in the car seat, check the harness across the child’s body. The chest clip should be at the arm pit level, not over the neck or stomach.
“Pinch the fabric at the shoulder and if you can’t pinch too much fabric, then you know it’s snug enough,” said Margaret McCabe of CCMC.
Babies under a year old or under 20 pounds need to be in a car seat and facing the back. Kids under age six or under 60 pounds must also be in a car seat, but can face forward. After that, it’s up to the parents. They decide based on the child’s weight and height if they should remain in a car seat or ride in a booster seat. If parents don’t follow the rules, however, it isn’t just a safety issue.
“If parents aren’t following that and it results in injury, they can be charged with risk of injury, reckless endangerment,” said Trooper Tyler Weerden. “Those are both felonies.”
Car seats expire after about six years, since technology improves and time in a hot car can take its toll. Most fire and police departments will help parents and caregivers install a car seat.