Car seat safety is of utmost importance when traveling with infants and children, and should especially be top of mind this time of year while many of us are traveling to visit family and friends throughout the holidays.
Two common mistakes parents or caregivers often make are not securing the car seat tight enough in the car, and not securing the car seat harness tight enough to the child.
To test whether or not the car seat is safely secured in the car, try moving the seat back and forth and side to side after you feel that you have tightened it as much as possible.
If the seat moves more than an inch in either direction, it is too loose. To check if the harness is tight enough, try pinching the shoulder straps (one at a time) vertically.
If you are able to pinch the strap together, it is too loose and needs to be tightened further.
Another common mistake made with car seat safety is moving the child to the next stage or seat before they are ready.
It is recommended that a child’s car seat remain rear-facing until they reach two years of age or the height and weight limits of the seat.
Children should then remain in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the height and weight limits of that seat before switching to a booster.
By North Carolina law, children need to remain in a booster seat until they reach eighty pounds or eight years of age.
Fortunately, individuals throughout our community and the state of North Carolina can access free car seat safety checks and appointments with certified child passenger safety technicians to get help adjusting their car seats and become educated on car seat safety.
You can find a list of certified child passenger safety technicians and car seat inspection stations in the Guilford County area by visiting SAFE Guilford’s website: http://www.safeguilford.org.
SAFE Guilford is a local injury prevention coalition that brings together health and safety experts, businesses, government departments, community-based organizations and volunteers to address accidental injury.
It was founded in 2001 by Cone Health Network, The Guilford County Department of Health and Guilford County Health Carolinians.
Leigha Shepler is the injury prevention coordinator for the trauma department at Cone Health.
She also manages the activities of Safe Guilford, the injury prevention coalition for Guilford County, and provides outreach and education on child passenger, bike and pedestrian safety, and fall prevention for older adults.
Leigha received a Master of Science in Health Promotion from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2001, and has been in her current position for seven years.