Buckling up in the car is probably second nature to you. But you might not be as familiar with correctly buckling up a baby, toddler, or child. Having a properly installed and buckled child safety seat can make a huge difference if you get into an accident. Learn more about how to properly buckle up your child.
Child safety seats that are used correctly can reduce the risk of death in the event of an accident by as much as 71 percent, according to Safe Kids Wordwide. But, it’s estimated that 73 percent of car seats are not installed or used correctly.
Don’t be one of the many who uses a car seat or booster seat improperly. Stay safe each time you hit the road with these tips on how to buckle up your child in the car.
Seat belt safety
There are some important rules you can follow each time you get in the car to make the ride safer for you and your little ones. Remember, kids learn by example, so set a good one for your child by practicing safe buckling each time you’re in the car.
- Make sure all children and adults in the car are buckled up.
- Check right away, even before putting your key in the ignition, that everyone is properly buckled.
- If you have children under age 12, they should not sit in the front seat of the car. Front seat airbags are dangerous for young children. You should also never use a car seat in the front seat.
- Teach your kids that wearing their seat belts are mandatory for each and every drive, no matter how short of a distance you’re traveling or how slow you’re driving. If they aren’t buckled up, the car doesn’t move.
If your child is spending the weekend at grandma’s, or doing an overnight at a friend’s, remind him or her that seat belt rules apply no matter who they are riding with.
Taking a road trip? Read this road trip survival guide: five car safety tips for traveling with kids.
Methods of car safety
Depending on your child’s age and size, there are a variety of methods of car safety to know about and learn. From car seats for little ones, up to using a seat belt for the older ones, know how to properly buckle up your kids, and teach them when they are old enough to do it themselves.
When at all possible, buy a new car seat for your infant or toddler. A used car seat could have been in an accident, and could be broken or compromised. Or, if a car seat is old, it could have been recalled, or be past its recommended age of use.
Look for a free car seat inspection or installation event in your town or neighborhood. Having a trained eye take a look at your car seat and how it’s installed could make a big difference if you’ve done it improperly. Some fire stations also provide this service, so check if yours does.
A child young enough to ride in a car seat isn’t always capable of buckling himself or herself into the car seat. Always do it for your child or at least double-check to see that it is secured properly.
Also pay attention to the weight and height restrictions on your car seat. Some seats are for infants up to age one or 30 pounds, while others can be used for larger toddlers. There are also rules on whether your child’s car seat should face forward or backward. Typically, it is recommended that children under age two face backward.
When your child has outgrown his or her car seat, move up to the next size, or into a booster seat.
After your child has outgrown his or her car seat, it’s time to introduce a booster seat. Booster seats can protect children who are too large for a car seat, but too small to wear a seat belt.
Booster seats should be used by kids who are under 4-feet, 9-inches, which is typically the size of children ages eight to 12. Using a booster seat can reduce the risk of serious injury in the event of a car crash by 45 percent, versus seat belts alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wearing a seat belt properly is an important practice for both you and your children. Never share a seat belt, or tuck the shoulder strap behind your shoulder. Remember, your kids are watching!
Make sure the lap belt sits low and tight across the upper part of the hips, not across the upper half of your stomach. The shoulder strap should fit across your chest snugly, and should never lie under your arm or across your neck or face.
Got teenagers? You can also learn how to keep your teen safe as a driver and passenger.
Whenever you’re on the road, be sure to drive along with the peace of mind knowing your little ones are buckled up as safely and securely as possible.