Making use of a car seat is the first step in helping to assure the security of your kids

Making use of a car seat is the number one step in helping to improve the security of your kids in an automobile. However just possessing a car seat is not sufficient in itself: the car seat needs to be used, and it must be used properly. Here are helpful steps to follow to help ensure that your kids will be as safe as possible in their car seats.

- Always make certain that you completely read and understand the recommendations from the manufacturer on how to use the car seat properly. Incorrect car seat usage is the single biggest cause of car seat failure. Also completely read the owner's manual for your car concerning the usage of car seats. Most car owner's manuals have detailed instructions for car seat usage and these instructions should always be given the utmost consideration.


- To optimize the security of your child, always put the car seat in the rear set of your automobile, never install the car seat in the front seat. Ideally, you should place the car set in the middle of the rear seat to increase protection against side-impact collisions.


- If your car seat can only be placed in the front seat (if there is no rear seat), only install it there if there is no front seat airbag or if the airbag can be turned off. And then make sure that the airbag is indeed off. Never install a car seat in the front seat of a vehicle when the passenger-side airbag is enabled.


- Keep your child in their rear-facing car seat for as long as possible so long as they meet the size and weight standards for the car seat in that configuration. It is safer for your children to be facing to the rear.


- When you put your child in their car seat, be certain the straps fit snugly, and be sure to use the chest strap. The chest strap should go across the chest as per the manufacturer's instructions. If the chest strap is too low, your child may not be secure in the event of an accident. If the strap is too high, it may crush your child's neck in an accident.


- Once your child gets too big or heavy for their car seat, you should use a booster seat until such time as the seat belt fits them correctly. Usually, this is until they are about 80 pounds or 4' 9" tall. Check your vehicle owner's guide for the exact limits on your vehicle. When it does fit correctly, the shoulder belt should fit over the shoulders, not the neck, and the lap belt should fit across the hips, not on the stomach.


- After you believe you have your car seat correctly put in, have it examined by a certified car seat technician. This can usually be done in minutes, usually at no charge. Check to find the closest seat check location to you.


- Stay away from used car seats unless you know for certain the age and history of the car seat. Do not buy car seats older than five years old, or car seats that have been in an accident. Make sure that used car seats have all of their labels with the manufacturing information, manufacturing date, and model number. Also, make sure that the manual is available; never buy a car seat without the manufacturer's manual.


- If your car has the LATCH system for car seats, make sure you get LATCH-compatible car seats. Using the LATCH system makes for easier installation, leading to increased security and reduced chance of installation problems. Still, the installation should still be looked at by a certified car seat technician once it is complete.


- Check out the website of the manufacturer for your automobile. Oftentimes, automobile manufacturer's websites will list, on a per-model basis, the car seats they recommend for installation in their cars.

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