The federal government claims that many children's car seats are too small, contributing to child fatalities. Unfortunately, many parents and guardians are oblivious of the dangers of not correctly buckling or unbuckling their child's harness. Consumer reports show that parents and caregivers keep strapping kids into car seats in the wrong way.
Proper harnessing is important because a tight harness protects a child and reduces the risk of a child being thrown from a car seat or hitting something else within the car. The harness evenly distributes the child's solid and boney areas like shoulders and hips. This also keeps the child's head still in an accident.
Here are five crucial steps to properly adjust a car seat harness for your child:
1. Make Sure the Harness Is On
It's easy to be comfortable in overly tight clothes. You can tell by feeling how tight they are. To separate the straps, pinch them with tongs or pliers.
Your belt is too loose if you can pinch more than an inch of webbing. Tighten the harness by sliding the straps upon the body. Then lower and tighten the straps. Boosters, sometimes known as seat belt adjusters, can aid. Some seats have them.
2. Put the Chest Clip of the Car Seat On
There is a simple way to keep the harness straps on your child's shoulders and chest. This is called the chest clip. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Graco both sell "buckle guards." It hangs from the harness's buckle at the armpit level, protecting your child.
The chest clip should be right around the child's armpit when buckled. If it isn't, unbuckle the harness, slide the chest clip down the strap, and buckle it again.
3. Pull the Straps Through
If your harness is too loose, pull on the straps: The shoes fit well if you can't pinch more than an inch of webbing. Tighten the harness, move it up on your child's torso, and tighten the straps. Try this if you can pinch more than an inch:
Some car seats have a permanently affixed splitter plate. The straps are attached to the splitter plate. This means you can skip the next step because your straps can't be changed.
The harness straps should be as long as possible for seats with adjustable straps. This will best safeguard your child from a crash. Change the length of the harness straps by weaving webbing through the splitter plate. Then re-buckle the harness.
4. Double-Check Everything
It pays to double-check the child seat harness to make sure your child is perfectly strapped on. Adjust the harness as needed, for it can save your child’s life in case of a car collision. Moreover, if you have a rear-facing car seat, you need to check that the back part of the car seat has not been crushed. This is a sign that your child is not in the car seat correctly.
5. Practice Makes Perfect
It is important to practice the harnessing and unbuckling of your child's car seat several times. This will ensure that you get this right every time. Additionally, you need to rehearse the entire car ride. You want to be sure that you will know how to get your child out in case of an emergency.
Safety is a top priority when it comes to our children. It's easy to ignore the importance of proper harnessing, but it is important in preventing your child from getting injured in a collision or sudden stop.
It is highly recommended to have a professional check your child's harness, but if you can't afford it, you can do this on your own. Take time to learn the proper steps in harnessing a car seat. Take note that these five steps or guidelines can help keep your child safe.
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