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Majority of US child seats incorrectly installed
During the US child passenger safety week, campaign groups are educating parents on the importance of correct child safety seat installation.
From September 18th to the 24th, the USA is holding Child Passenger Safety Week, a period of time dedicated to educating parents about the importance of seat belts and car seats. One of the biggest issues that continue to plague parents is how difficult it is to correctly install a car seat. In fact, 4 out of 5 car seats are installed incorrectly, and according to an Oregon Health and Science University Hospital study, car seat misuse is even higher among new parents with as many as 93% of families taking a newborn home from the hospital in incorrectly equipped vehicles.
“Being a new parent is stressful and exhausting. There is a ton of stuff to learn and to think about,” explains Dr Benjamin Hoffman, a pediatrician and expert in child passenger safety. “We know that car seats are hard to use in the best of circumstances, but when you add the stress of leaving the hospital, you increase the risk of making a serious installation error.”
Tips for Correct Installation
According to Dr Hoffman, there are three categories of errors parents need to be aware of and take into consideration when installing a car seat:
* Selection errors – Make sure that you pick the right car seat for your child and your needs. You want to select a seat that fits the child (ensuring your child is the correct weight and height for the seat); fits the vehicle; and one that can be used correctly each and every time.
* Positioning errors – Once you’ve selected the right car seat, make sure that you position your child correctly in the car seat. Grab your car seat manual to ensure you have the harness through the right harness slots. Make sure that the chest clip is placed at armpit level and then pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you’re not able to pinch any excess slack, you’ve secured the harness correctly.
* Installation errors – Make sure to follow the instructions in your manual when installing the car seat. You want to make sure you get a tight fit – with either a LATCH installation or seat belt installation. You’ll also want to make sure that you use the correct lower anchors to install the car seat. To ensure a correct installation, it’s a good idea to have your car seat checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), like a police officer or fireman.
“We’ve found that families who worked with a certified CPST prior to delivery were 10 times less likely to make mistakes,” says Hoffman. “However, 77% of those families still made serious errors, so it is not enough. Practicing with the car seat before the baby is born, learning how to install and use it correctly, and then working with a certified CPST is best.”
A new option that is now available to new parents is a self-installing car seat. Through robotics technology and advanced sensors, the car seat installs itself correctly by automatically levelling and tensioning, verifies the installation before every ride and then continuously monitors its status during use, giving parents complete peace of mind every time they put their baby in the car. The seat guides parents through the installation process with visual and voice commands on both the car seat base and in an app, which is required for auto installation.