- Christi Kulwicki
Car Seats Made Simple
Count to 10. Take a break. Inhale. Exhale. Long deep breaths. Ease your anxiety over proper car seat installation. It doesn’t have to be difficult.
Car seat installation doesn’t need to be complicated, but multiple organizations recognize that it can be. Here are some online resources to help you understand how to install your car seat:
The Safe Kids Worldwide Ultimate Car Seat Guide aims to simplify the process: safekids.org/ultimate-car-seat-guide
These webpages not only provide helpful tips and tricks, but you can also look up your local car seat fitting station to receive one-on-one instruction from an expert who is certified in car seat installation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 59 percent of car seats are used incorrectly. Car seat techs can see if yours is one of them.
At a bare minimum, use Florida law as your baseline. All children ages 5 and younger must be in a child restraint device no matter where they sit in a vehicle. Children 3 and younger must be in a child restraint device of a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacture’s integrated car seat.
Let’s break this down: If your child is 5 years old or younger, that child must be in a car seat or booster. It doesn’t matter how big or small that child is; the child must always be in a car seat or booster. It doesn’t matter where they sit in a vehicle; they must always be in a car seat or booster. This also means that if your child is 3 or younger, your child is to be restrained in a car seat or your vehicle’s built-in car seat. It is not acceptable to have a 2- or 3-year-old in a booster seat.
As a parent, I respect the law and follow it to a T, because there is good intention there. I want my children’s safety to be on point to the best of my ability and not give in to the pressure that society puts on our children that car seats aren’t cool.
Which now leads into best practice. The question comes up quite often: What is the best car seat for my child? The answer is simple. When choosing a child restraint device, you need to refer to the needs of your child, the vehicle and the ability of the person using the seat. Do your research. The internet is filled with information to guide you to find a car seat that will best fit you and your child’s needs. NHTSA safety facts show that, in 2015, 248 children younger than 5 were saved by a car seat.
Take advantage of the Safe Kids Worldwide Ultimate Car Seat Guide when researching and installing. It will walk you through the process. Be sure to read your car seat manual and the vehicle’s manual. You will learn a wealth of knowledge on what your seat and your vehicle is meant and not meant to do.
Even though car seats and boosters are law, car crashes are still the leading cause of death among ages 1-13, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is a prime reason why it is important to understand your vehicle, car seat and your child’s needs. NHTSA safety facts also show that 35 percent of children younger than 13 who were not in a car seat, booster or seatbelt were killed in 2015. Do your research, read your manuals, visit a car seat fitting station near you, and provide the best safety accommodations for your little one.
Visit the National Child Passenger Safety Certification website to find a car seat fitting station near you.
Article written by Christi R. Kulwicki, of the North Fort Myers Fire Control District, on behalf of Safe Kids Southwest Florida. Safe Kids is a nonprofit coalition of agencies and organizations dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries. Visit safekidsswfl.org.