By: Mary Thompson, Capstone Brokerare President August 24, 2016

Across the globe, car accidents remain the number one cause of death of children. While safety measures, such as car seats and seat belts, have come a long way still more can be done to protect the little people of the world. A study By Safe Ride 4 kids found that 33% of children involved in automobile accidents were NOT restrained. That is a scary statistic about children not being protected by an easy seat belt restraint or car seat.

Using a Car Seat Correctly

Many times parents find the instructions for car seat installation to be confusing or unclear. Often times a parent thinks they have the seat installed correctly only to find out that they don’t. Safekids.org has created an easy guide and checklist to ensure the car seat is installed correctly.

Also, please check out this video to see how to correctly install different types of seats.

The number one mistake that parents make is putting their children into the wrong type of car seat. Is your child in the right car seat? Check out this easy guide to find out: Basic guidelines for car seat types based on age, weight, and height.

Do I have to replace my child’s car seat after an automobile accident?

Make sure to replace all damaged car seats. Did you know car seats are part of your automobile coverage? If a car seat becomes damaged, contact your insurance carrier or broker to have it replaced. A seat that has been in an accident no matter the damage needs to be replaced. The straps should be cut and the seat needs to be disposed of properly so another child does not use the seat. Most local baby stores will even take the seat for you to dispose of it properly. To find out more information about replacing your child’s car seat after a crash here is the direct link to NHTSA’s crashed seat criteria for replacement: NHTSA

Please note that the above manufacturers crashed seat FAQs and NHTSA criteria do not differentiate between an unoccupied and occupied seat. The car seat has been subjected to crash forces even if it was unoccupied at the time of the crash. There could be unseen damage from the stress of the crash that could potentially cause the seat to fail to properly protect your child in the event of another crash.

Car seats should be used as is… You should not add toys, covers, and mirrors to the seat. The main reason is when a car seat under goes crash testing they are not used in the tests so the effect they have on the child’s safety is unknown and is not worth the risk. Lastly check the car seat often. It only takes a moment to ensure the seat is tight, installed properly and the straps are not twisted, this quick check can save your child’s life in the event of an accident. Use this as a guideline but do your own research, each automobile is manufactured differently and has specific car seat guidelines. You can have your child’s car seat checked for proper installation throughout many places in your town, such as a AAA office, some fire departments and at most events put on by your community.