Is Your Car Seat Safe for Winter? 3 Questions to Ask

| Lifestyle Tips

Before winter weather hits, preparing for colder temperatures and icy roads can keep you and your family safe. One great way to prepare is with a car seat check: a quick, easy step you can take toward winter road safety.

Though they seem straightforward, car seats come with specific installation requirements and best practices that keep your child safe while traveling. Research shows that more than 80 percent of car seats are used incorrectly in some way. And since motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children between ages 3 and 14, having the right car seat could save a life.¹

A car seat check will either ensure that your seat is installed correctly, or help you fix any mistakes that might have been made. And don’t be embarrassed if you did make a mistake—that’s why we’re here to help! The certified car seat technicians at Schneck can check your car seat for free, and all you have to do is make an appointment.

Want to get a head start and perform a self-assessment of your car seat? Here are three important questions to ask yourself.

1. Am I using the right car seat?

Your child should use a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness for as long as possible. (Tip: The five points are the two shoulders, two hips, and one in between the legs.) Only when they reach certain height and weight requirements should a child switch to a forward-facing seat; you’ll find those requirements on the car seat or in its manual.

The typical progression of car seats is:

  • Rear-facing seat with a five-point harness
  • Forward-facing seat with a five-point harness
  • Booster seat and seat belt
  • Seat belt alone

Resist the urge to transition too soon: Most children can’t safely use an adult seat belt until somewhere between ages 8 and 12. The lap belt should lie low, across your child’s upper thighs, and the shoulder belt should rest on the middle of your child’s chest and shoulder. A car seat technician can also tell you whether you’re using the right seat for your child.

2. Is my car seat in the right position?

Be sure to read your car seat and vehicle manuals before installation. Your child’s car seat is safest in the back seat and away from active airbags. (Tip: Avoid using vehicles with one row of seats, such as pickup trucks, unless the airbag can be turned off with a key.) Place the car seat in the center of the back seat to minimize the risk of injury during a crash.

When the car seat is in place, it should be tightly secured and difficult to move in any direction. Then, recline the seat according to manufacturer instructions; the correct recline will keep your child’s airways open. You may need to adjust this angle as your child grows.

3. Do I need a professional car seat check?

Yes—even though there are some factors you can check for yourself. A car seat technician can assess the specifics of your child’s car seat size, placement, and safety. It’s a quick, easy process that will give you peace of mind and keep your family safe on the road this winter.

Schneck’s certified car seat technicians offer free car seat safety checks from 2:00-4:30 p.m. every Wednesday. Appointments are required, so call the Schneck Family Life Center at (812) 522-0435 to make yours today!