Installing a Child Safety Seat - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Feb 14, 2019

Installing a Child Safety Seat

Installing a child car seat – how hard can it be, right?  Well, if you’ve ever attempted to install one properly, you know how frustrating it can be.

Did you know that car accidents are among the highest causes of death for children ages 1-8 years old?  Perhaps this is due to the fact that on average, 46% of child safety seats are not properly installed in the vehicle.  Knowing the importance of car seat safety and how to install those safety devices can make a crucial difference in the event of an accident.

Fortunately, educators around the country have realized the need for car seat safety.  Organizations like the Safe Kids Coalition hosts events to have car seats properly installed and inspected to ensure safety for your precious cargo.  If you do not feel confident in DIY installation – there are certified child passenger safety technicians who are there to help.

If you’ve decided to install a child safety seat on your own, here are some tips to help you do it properly:

Tip #1: Take your time.

Set aside a large portion of time to complete the task.  Don’t attempt to install it when you are short on time.  You will find that a thorough reading of the owner’s manual for BOTH the car seat and your vehicle will be helpful.  Make sure to look for recommended locations for the child safety seat to keep everyone in the car safe.

Tip #2: Seat belt vs. LATCH 

There are two ways in which to secure a car seat: the seat belt or LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children).   If you decide on the seat belt, make sure the belt goes through the car seat at the belt path.  The car seat directions will specify how to do this.
***Make sure to use a top tether when securing a forward-facing car seat***
Either method is safe, but you will want to choose the one that firmly secures the car seat without movement – which leads us to the next tip:

Tip #3:  The Inch Test

Does the car seat move around?  A properly installed car seat should not move more than an inch in any direction.

Tip #4: Know the car seat’s limits.

As children grow and mature, they will need to change car seats often.  Make sure you are aware of the safety seat weight and height requirements so your child will be safe at all times. Additionally, keep in mind that you should never put a child in a car seat with clothing thicker than a sweater or sweatshirt. Bulky clothing items stretch the straps, which can be dangerous in the event of an accident. Instead of putting on a winter coat, try laying it over them or using a blanket to keep them warm. 

Car seats may seem like a simple part of caring for a child, but proper installation can take time and effort.  

Download this checklist as a PDF here!