LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - If you have a car seat in your vehicle right now, chances are you could be using it wrong and putting your child's life at risk.
According to safety experts, 9 out of 10 car seats in the state are installed wrong or being used incorrectly.
It seems like a simple concept, but more often than not, parents are making some big mistakes when it comes to car seats.
“In Arkansas, every time I go out and check car seats, there is always something wrong,” said Holly Terry, program coordinator for the Child Passenger Safety Program. “We see anywhere from 90 to 100 percent misuse just about anywhere in the state.”
Terry shared that many parents listen to what their moms told them – especially new moms. Another problem, she said, is that the instructions with the car seats are not easy to understand.
She says one of the most common mistakes made is not placing a seat at the correct recline angle.
“Anywhere from 35 to 40 degrees. Closer to 45 for our newborns because they don't have head control; a little closer to 30 for our older babies,” Terry suggested.
She said most seats have an adjustable foot or built-in recline indicators that will properly angle the seat.
Another big mistake? Turning the child forward too early. The Academy of Pediatrics and Consumer Reports both recommend that children should stay in a rear facing seat until at least age two.
“We definitely don't want a child turned around before age one and before they are 20 pounds,” Terry added.
Another common mistake in all car seats is not tightening the straps enough and leaving the chest clip too low.
“You want to make sure the chest clip fits right on top of the chest at the top of the armpits,” Terry continued. “You always want to check for tightness by pinching at the collarbone. If you can grab hold of it, it’s too loose. Tighten it some more, and if you can’t grab hold of it it’s just perfect.”
When it comes to booster seats, Terry said she sees lap belts that lie across the child's stomach rather than their lap all too often.
“You have got to make sure that that seatbelt comes across the lap and across the chest and shoulders,” she emphasized. “A lot of kids—if they are too small—it rides up on the neck and then they will put it behind their back, and that's incorrect.”
A few simple changes can most likely save your child's life.