New Year, New Parent? Top 10 Car Seat Safety Mistakes to Avoid
Car Seats Colorado Shares Tips for New Parents
STATEWIDE — More than 64,000 babies were born in Colorado in 2017. The numbers for 2018 aren’t out yet, but in all likelihood, plenty of new parents across the state have questions about how to best care for their newborn. Car Seats Colorado, a joint effort between the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), would like to help new parents avoid some common mistakes when buying, installing or securing their child in a car seat. These common pitfalls include:
1. Accepting a used car seat without knowing its entire history.
Even if it’s not visible, car seats that have been in a crash can have structural damage. And most car seats expire after six years — partly because summer heat, winter cold and year-round sunshine break down and weaken seat materials over time. Never use a second-hand car seat unless you know its ENTIRE history and it hasn’t yet reached its expiration date.
2. Straining the budget by thinking the most expensive car seat is the best.
All new car seats have to pass the same stringent crash safety standards set by the federal government. Infant car seats can cost as little as $40 and are just as safe as those that will run you $400 or more.
3. Failing to check for recalls.
There are hundreds of car seat models under recall by manufacturers. Last year alone, recalls affected 755,000 individual car seats. Take the time to see if yours is on the list every few months to make sure a new recall hasn’t been issued. You can also register for recall alerts at CarSeatsColorado.com to ensure you get timely recall information from the manufacturer.
4. Strapping in a baby wearing bulky winter clothes.
Car seat straps need to be snug to protect a child in the event of a crash. Bulky winter coats or snowsuits create room between the straps and the child, increasing the force of an impact.
5. Attaching toys or after-market add-ons to the car seat.
Toys, cup holders, rear-seat mirrors or anything else not originally included with the car seat can act as a projectile during a crash. Keep the seat and surrounding area free from clutter.
6. Moving your child to the next car seat before they’re ready.
A child’s age, height, weight and physical development, as well as the car seat manufacturer’s recommendations, should all be considered before you move your child to the next type of car seat — NOT just their age. If you’re unsure of when to move to the next seat, visit a car seat inspection station to have your seat checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. Visit CarSeatsColorado.com for a list of inspection stations throughout Colorado.
7. Not attaching the car seat base to the seat of the car.
It may sound obvious, but some new parents who buy two-piece infant car seats with a carrier and a base will sometimes click the carrier into the base — but forget to secure the base to the seat of the car.
8. Using car seat anchor attachments and a seat belt at the same time.
While this may seem like added protection, the two systems can interfere with each other and actually make the car seat less secure. Please follow installation instructions from the manufacturer.
9. Putting baby in front of an air bag.
Unless you’re driving a two-seat pickup truck, your infant should never be in the front seat. However, if you must, make sure the air bag is turned off — the force of the bag deployment can cause serious injury.
10. Throwing away an old car seat
Expired or damaged car seats can be recycled through Car Seats Colorado. Visit CarSeatsColorado.com for a list of drop-off locations. You can also call your local waste management company to find out if they have a car seat recycling program. If not, you can render the seat unusable by cutting and removing the harness, and breaking the plastic shell, or writing "UNSAFE - DO NOT USE" on the plastic shell in permanent marker. The seat can then be disposed of normally.
Parents and caregivers can watch installation and safety videos, download the latest educational materials, find links to recall lists and learn more about car seat recycling programs at CarSeatsColorado.com.
About Car Seats Colorado
Car Seats Colorado provides education and resources to help parents ensure their children are riding safely, as well as recycling programs for used car seats and training courses for safety technicians. Car Seats Colorado is comprised of the CSP, CDOT, local car seat technicians, law enforcement, emergency services and other professionals who are dedicated to implementing child passenger safety programs. Learn more at CarSeatsColorado.com.