- Written by Dahlia Rizk Dahlia Rizk
When grandparents transport their grandchildren, they obviously want to keep them safe, but with all the information that is floating out there nowadays about car seats, it’s hard for them to know the best way to do that.
After all, transporting children in cars looked a lot different 30 or 40 years ago than it does today. According to an Accident Analysis and Prevention study, 25% of parents and grandparents chose the incorrect seat to transport a child, and 68% had at least one harness-related error.
Grandparents were also more likely to install a child loosely in a car seat.
Rear facing is the way to be. Properly securing your grandchild into their car seat starts with knowing which way the car seat should be facing in the car.
The common standard used to be to turn the car seat forward when the child was 1 year old or when they were over 20 lbs., but things have changed.
Experts are now recommending keeping the child in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the maximum height and weight requirements for the specific car seat you are using.
Additionally, all 50 states have now adopted a law mandating rear-facing until at least 2. Rear-facing reduces serious injury in a crash by 92%.
Clip it in the right spot. Placing the harness clips in the wrong position tends to be one of the most common mistakes grandparents (and parents!) make when buckling a child into a car seat.
Clips should rest across the chest at armpit level to keep the harness in the right place — over the shoulders — in a crash.
Harness tightness check. Harness tightness is a critical step in securing your grandchild into a car seat. In a crash, a loosely strapped child will be thrown far forward with force, leading to injury.
Secure the harness over the child and pinch the harness strap up where the child’s shoulders are. If you can’t grab anything, that means the harness is tight enough. If you were able to grab seatbelt webbing, it means you have some more tightening to do.
The secret is in the winter coat. Yes, it’s true: Puffy winter coats are dangerous.
It’s frustrating seeing your grandbaby with no coat on in the cold, but in a car crash, the coat not only compresses, creating space between your child and the harness, but the force of the crash can also stretch the harness up to 7%.
Even if the child is not thrown entirely from the car seat, all the stretching and the space left from the compression will pitch the child too far forward.
Studies show that as the distance forward increases, the risk of critical injury also increases. In fact, as few as 6 millimeters of forward movement can be the difference between walking away from a crash and sustaining critical injuries.
Dahlia Rizk is a child passenger safety technician, a licensed clinical mental health counselor, and mom of three raising her kids in snowy New Hampshire. She invented Buckle Me Baby Coats so parents have a fast and easy way to buckle their little ones in the car seat. bucklemecoats.com