Parents making some big mistakes installing children's car seats

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email

For more information, you can visit the Safe Kids of East Central website here.

News 12 This Morning / Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. -- Have you checked your child's car seat lately? Studies show around 90 percent of children's car seats are installed or used incorrectly.

Around the CSRA there are inspection checkpoints where a certified child safety inspector can check your car seat. You can make an appointment at Safe Kids of East Central or Martinez-Columbia Fire Station No. 3. The second Wednesday of each month the Columbia County Sheriff's office has a safety inspection checkpoint.

New mom Amy Miranda had her car seat checked on Monday.

"I want to do things the right way, and it's been a while since I've had a car seat this small and this size, so I wanted to make sure I was doing it the right way," she said.

It's something inspectors say more people need to do.

"Ninety percent of car seats are used or installed incorrectly," said Rene Hopkins with Safe Kids of East Central.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14 -- but experts say using your car seat correctly can reduce that risk by as much as 71 percent.

"A lot of people don't realize the nuances of what is a correct installation or what is a correct usage," Hopkins said.

That's why it's important for all parents to have their children's car seats inspected.

"That betters your child's chances of surviving an accident if you're involved in one," said Lt. Jamie Champion with the Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue. "You want to make sure that they are secure. If not, it could be bad."

Miranda says it's important to inspect your car seat regularly because car accidents can happen all too quickly.

"It's really, really important," she said. "You can't determine when you're going to be in a crash. Someone else could hit you and the next thing you know, you're in the hospital and your kids in the hospital. It just takes like that."

Some of the most common mistakes are small like not having the straps tight enough on your child or not securing the car seat enough in the car, but those small mistakes can have big consequences.

"The small mistake on this side is a really big error in the event of a crash," Hopkins said.

It's also important to replace your car seat every five to seven years and to have it inspected.

"Anytime you just call the station, and we'll set up an appointment with you as soon as we can," Champion said. "Come by and we'll show you quickly how to do it and make sure the car seats safe."

If you can't make it to an inspection, there is a15-minute at-home test you can do yourself.

It involves five steps:
1. Make sure you have the right seat for your child's age, height and weight.
2. Make sure the car seat is always in the back seat.
3. Make sure it is facing the right direction. Typically children under the age of 2 should face the rear of the car.
4. Once the car seat is installed, shake it. It should not move more than an inch in any direction.
5. Make sure the straps are tight around your child. When the chest clip is at armpit level, you should not be able to pinch excess webbing at your child's shoulder.

For more information, you can visit the Safe Kids of East Central website here.

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