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5 Potential Safety Hazards to Check/Correct on Your Child’s Car Seat

Ensuring your child is securely restrained in a car seat is one of the most important ways to keep them safe.  Unfortunately, 46% of car seats and boosters aren’t installed correctly, and oversights, like a misadjusted strap or incorrect seat angle, can have serious consequences during an abrupt stop or accident.

Knowing common hazards and double-checking the fit and installation of your child’s car seat can protect your child’s well-being on Green Bay roads and highways.

Why Checking Your Child’s Car Seat is Vital to Their Safety?

Ensuring the proper function of your child’s car seat impacts their safety during every car ride. In 2021, 40% of children who died in car crashes in the U.S. were unrestrained, highlighting the need for proper car seat use.

Out of 42,939 traffic fatalities that year, 1,184 were children aged fourteen and younger. When used correctly, child safety seats dramatically decrease risks—they reduce fatal injuries by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers between one and four in passenger cars. In 2021, car seats saved 325 children under five in one year.

These seats protect a child’s vulnerable neck and spine during collisions, preventing severe head and spinal trauma. Proper usage also ensures that children remain in the vehicle, helping prevent fatal injuries.

5 Potential Safety Hazards to Check and Correct

To ensure your child’s well-being while traveling, use the proper size seat for their height, weight, and age. Regularly checking the following can help you take the necessary precautions to recognize and correct common car seat safety issues:

  1. Placing a Car Seat in the Wrong Location

Installing a rear-facing car seat in the front seat puts your child in the direct path of a potentially deadly airbag deployment or injuries from a head-on crash.

Even during minor accidents or sudden braking, airbags deploy with a force of up to 200 miles per hour. This poses a serious risk of head and neck injuries or fatalities to infants and small children.

Always install rear-facing car seats in the back seat to ensure maximum protection for your child. Wisconsin requires infants to ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 20 pounds or one year old. The state also recommends children stay in the back in a rear-facing seat until age five.

  1. Using the Wrong Size Car Seat

Newborns and infants have delicate necks and spines that require the support provided by rear-facing car seats. Forward-facing car seats are not designed to offer this level of protection for very young children.

Ensure you use an appropriate car seat for your child’s age, weight, and height. Newborns should only ride in infant-only rear-facing seats until they meet the size and age requirements for forward-facing seats. You may use a convertible or all-in-one seat that transitions into forward-facing and booster seats as your child grows.

Use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s car seat finder tool to choose the right type and compare models.

  1. Not Correctly Securing a Car Seat

An improperly secured car seat can shift or detach during a crash, increasing the risk of injury to your child. It may also fail to function as intended during an accident. Follow the car seat manufacturer’s installation instructions to ensure your child’s safety.

Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for specific guidelines on securing the car seat using either the seat belt or the latch system. Regularly check for tightness and stability to prevent potential hazards.

Have your car seat inspected to check installation and safety. Children’s Wisconsin has a list of car seat installation sites by county where you can make an appointment.

  1. Placing a Child in a Car Seat with Thick Coats or Jackets

Thick coats and jackets create additional space between your child and the harness straps of their car seat, reducing their effectiveness during a crash. This may result in the child slipping out of the harness or experiencing inadequate restraint during a crash, which can result in serious injuries.

Dress your child in thinner layers to ensure a snug fit between their body and the car seat’s harness. After securely fastening your child in the car seat, use a blanket to keep them warm.

  1. Continuing to Use a Damaged Car Seat

Car seats can sustain hidden structural damage during a collision without visible external damage. This damage can impact the car seat’s effectiveness in future accidents. Always replace a car seat involved in a crash, regardless of apparent harm.

Avoid old or used car seats when possible. Most seats have an expiration date of around six years stamped onto their frames, after which they may not be effective.

Consider registering your car seat to stay aware of any potential recalls and replace it if there is damage, like broken plastic on the harness or torn straps. These can endanger your child in a crash and impact the device’s integrity.

Ensure a Safe Ride for Your Child

As a parent, taking every possible precaution to prevent injury to your child is essential. In the car, that means buckling up your little ones in a safe, secure car seat designed for their age, height, and weight.

If you or your child was hurt in a car accident in Green Bay or the surrounding area, speak to our knowledgeable Green Bay car accident attorneys at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers. We can protect your rights and help you seek compensation from the at-fault driver.

Call us today to schedule a confidential consultation. Let us guide you through the legal process so that you can focus on what matters most—your family’s well-being.

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