1.Moving your child out of a booster seat too soon.
Consequence: Seat belts are designed to fit adults, not children. Improper seat belt fit can result in abdominal or neck injury in a crash or sudden stop. Recommendation: Keep your children in booster seats until the seat belt fits them properly. Children should be able to sit with their back against the seat, knees bending at the edge of the seat and feet touching the floor. The lap belt should be positioned low across their hips and upper thighs with the shoulder belt across their chest and collarbone. Depending on your child’s growth and development, a seat belt typically fits correctly between ages 8 – 12.
2. Not installing the car seat tightly enough.
Consequence: If the seat belt or lower anchor connection is too loose, the car seat will not stay put, subjecting your child to greater crash forces. Recommendation: The car seat should not move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch when tested at the belt path.
3. Harness straps too loose.
Consequence: If harnesses are too loose, your child will not be properly restrained in the event of a crash. This may subject your child to higher crash forces, or even ejection from the seat altogether. Recommendation: Harness straps should lay flat and not have any twists. Be sure the harness is snug enough that you cannot pinch any extra material at the child’s shoulder.
4. Retainer clip (or chest clip) is too low.
Consequence: The retainer clip helps keep the child secure in the car seat in the event of a sudden stop or crash. When a retainer clip is too low, a child can come out of the harnesses or the hard, plastic retainer clip can cause internal damage to their abdomen. Recommendation: Place the retainer clip at armpit level.
5. Turning your child forward facing too soon.
Consequence: Children in the second year of life are 5 times less likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash if they ride in a rear-facing car seat. Turning a child forward facing before age two can result in head, neck or spinal cord injury due to their underdeveloped bodies. Recommendation: A child should remain in a rear-facing seat as long as possible until they reach the upper weight or height limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Once your child outgrows a rear-facing infant seat, switch to a rear-facing convertible car seat with higher height and weight limits.
6. Allowing a child under the age of 13 to ride in the front seat.
Consequence: Children under the age of 13 are typically not large enough to safely ride in the front seat and can be seriously injured by front passenger air bags in the event of a crash. Recommendation: All children under age 13 should be properly restrained in the back seat.
7. Forgetting the top tether.
Consequence: Without the top tether, your child’s head and neck will be subject to excessive forward movement in a crash or sudden stop. Recommendation: When recommended, always use the top tether with both LATCH OR seat belt installations.
8. Adding additional padding, toys or mirrors to your child’s car seat.
Consequence: Using products that have not been tested with the car seat may interfere with how the seat was designed to perform in a crash. Loose items, such as mirrors, can also become a dangerous projectile in a sudden stop or crash. Recommendation: Only use products that come with the seat or are recommended by the seat manufacturer. Be sure to secure all loose items in a vehicle trunk or storage space.
9. Installing a car seat using LATCH in the center rear seat of a vehicle (when not permitted by the manufacturer).
Consequence: Most vehicles do not support LATCH installations in the center rear seat. Using lower anchors intended for outboard seats could cause the system to fail and the car seat to be thrown in a crash. Recommendation: Always read your vehicle owner’s manual and only use lower anchors in seating positions that are approved by the vehicle manufacturer.
10. Transporting unsecured, heavy items, including pets, in the vehicle.
Consequence: Loose items in the vehicle can become dangerous projectiles and seriously injure passengers in the car. Recommendation: Secure items in a trunk, glove compartment or storage location. Properly restrain pets with approved devices.
11. Installing a car seat using both LATCH AND a seat belt.
Consequence: Installing a car seat with more than one system may put unnecessary stress on the car seat and affect its performance in the event of a crash. Recommendation: In this case, two is not better than one. Install the car seat in approved seating positions with LATCH OR the seat belt. Do not use more than one system unless the car seat manufacturer and vehicle manufacturer permit it.
12. Wearing bulky coats/sweaters while buckled into a car seat.
Consequence: Unapproved padding, including coats and sweaters, placed behind or under the harness can compress in a crash, creating slack in the harness system. Recommendation: Place blankets or jackets over the child after the harness is snug and secure.