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Hopefully, every parent on Long Island has a car seat for their young children. In fact, in the state of New York, it is illegal for a child to ride in a car without a safety seat under the age of four. Car Seats are specially designed so that even if a serious accident occurs, the child has the best chance of avoiding serious injury or death.
Sometimes, the car seats can be a little complicated, and assembly can be a challenge for some. With all of the safety mechanisms that come with a car seat, it’s possible for a parent to install the seat improperly. Doing so however, can actually turn the safety seat into a danger. Here are some essential tips to make sure that your car seat is operating as safe as possible.
While car seats tend to be expensive, it can be risky to use a second-hand car seat. This is especially true, if you don’t know its history. When car seats do experience accidents, they might get damaged. And purchasing a second-hand car seat could mean purchasing a potentially defective seat. Sometimes, the damage isn’t easily visible. So if you are in a position to buy a new car seat from a trusted company, that is the safest route. If not, make sure you find out about its history and reliability from the previous owner.
Many parents are told that they must have additional cushioning around their child’s head, especially for infants. If you feel that you would like to have extra cushioning for your infant, make sure you buy one that is made for the car seat you own and tested with that car seat. Many car seats come with infant inserts that have been tested by that company and is determined to be safe to use. Purchasing an aftermarket cushion is not making your drive safer for you baby. It has not been tested and proven to meet the safety standards of the safety seat. Additionally, the extra material can change the way the straps of the car seat fit, the temperature of the child and even a potential suffocation hazard. Consequently, car seat companies even void their warranties if aftermarket head huggers have been used due to the safety risks they can impose.
Sometimes, a parent may be tempted to loosen or unfasten the harness straps to make the baby comfortable in hopes of encouraging a nap for the child. However, those straps exist for a reason, and they serve to protect the child during an accident. Additionally, loosening the straps actually creates a suffocation hazard. And on top of that, very young toddlers and infants can wriggle out of a loose seat, causing potential harm even if there was no accident.
Every car seat has a tether, but many times they are not being used. A report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that even though all car seats have an anchor and strap meant to keep the car seat from tipping forward, this tether feature is only being used half of the time. Tethers are used as an extremely important tool to reduce the risk of a serious head injury. While rear-facing seats may not require it, it is crucial to use for forward-facing seats.
This is extremely important for parents to understand for every time they install the car seat into their car. Having the car seat at the right angle will ensure that the seat is considered safe. A lot of car seats has a built in recline indicator that will show if the safety seat is angled properly. A newborn seat should always be positioned at the most reclined position possible, and move more upright as the child gets older.
A car seat that is not secure enough and too loose has a greater potential for causing injury. There’s an easy test for this. Holding the car seat at the base, you should not be able to move the seat more than one inch to the left, right, or forward. According to car seat inspectors, this is the number one mistake that parents make. If the seat is too loose and there was a collision, a child could crash into the back of the front seat, causing serious injuries to their head or face. A parent should put all their weight into tightening the seat, as well as the seat belt.
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.