Most Child Car Seats Not Installed Properly

Car seats are one of the most important pieces of baby gear parents will buy, and they spend top dollar to ensure they have the most recent and safest model available for purchase. While parents aren't afraid to spend money to ensure they have a quality car seat, one car seat expert is claiming that most parents aren't installing them correctly.

Car seat safety expert Katherine Hutka, who works with the IWK's Child Safety Link program in Halifax told the CBC that using a car seat that is properly installed can reduce the risk of injury and death as the result of a collision by a whopping 70%. She noted that car accidents are the leading cause of death of children under the age of fourteen, and installing car seats properly could drastically reduce that statistic.

She stated that she's seen a variety of different offenses in how car seats have been installed over the years and that education is key in helping parents — especially those coming from countries that may not have car seats or car seat laws — to properly install their car seat.

Hutka says that one of the things she looks for when examining how a car seat is installed is how tightly it's attached to the vehicle. "We don't want to be able to move it more than an inch front to back, side to side where it's attached to the car," said Hutka. If the car seat is forward-facing, Hutka checks to ensure the top tether is being used and that the harness is fitting the child properly.



The car seat expert warns parents about rushing their children into booster seats too early, a problem she says she sees all too often. "We know that children are being moved into a booster seat before they're legally able to do so at 40 pounds, we also know that children are moving out of a booster seat much too quickly as well," she said. Hutka was recently in Toronto, training a dozen research assistants at their SickKids hospital who are conducting a study on what to look for when children are brought to the emergency department.

"We have heard from some emergency room physicians who have concerns about the way children are transported," she said. "They're really invested in injury prevention because they see the results of those injuries."

If you're concerned if your car seat is installed correctly, Hutka says many family resource centers have a trained car seat technician who can check the seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website also includes a state-by-state listing of child safety seat inspection stations.

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