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Car Seat Safety: 5 Things to Check Before You Get on the Road

Your car may have had a break over the last few months while you spent more time at home. As you begin to venture out, Tampa mom and car seat safety expert Michelle Pratt of Safe in the Seat shares pointers on ensuring your kids are safe on the road.

  1. Growth spurt? Chances are your child has grown over the last few months. Time to check that they are still within the height and weight limits of the car seat stage they are in.
  2. Harness height. Remember that harness straps should be at or below the shoulders for children who are rear facing, and at or above for children who are forward facing. Put your child in their car seat and see if that potential growth spurt also means you need to adjust their harness strap height.
  3. Lower anchors have weight limits! If you are using lower anchors to install your car seat, make sure your child is still within the weight limit to use those. The formula is: car seat weight plus child weight must be less than 65 combined pounds. If your child is over 65 pounds, then it is time to seatbelt install your car seat!
  4. Check for tightness. While our kiddos haven’t been in our cars for a while, their seats have. Let’s make sure they are still tightly secured. Use your nondominant hand and give the seat a handshake at the belt path (the path where the lower anchor strap or seatbelt routes to connect the car seat to the vehicle). Make sure the seat doesn’t move more than 1 inch in any direction—up/down, front/back, side/side. If it does, it’s time to work some installation magic and tighten that seat up!
  5. Tether in use for forward facing. If your child is sitting in a forward-facing seat, let’s make sure that the tether is in use and connected to the right place. That strap on the back of your car seat needs to be routed above, below or around the headrest and secured to a designated tether location (your vehicle manual will tell you where that is) and then pulled tight.

Final note: While we are tempted to Lysol and Clorox everything in sight right now,  remember that car seats have very specific cleaning rules. Check your manual for what cleaning products and methods your car seat allows. Going against this could jeopardize the integrity of the car seat and compromise the parts that are designed to protect our littles in a crash.

Connect with Michelle:

On Instagram: @safeintheseat

Originally published in Tampa Bay Parenting’s June 2020 Issue.


More articles by Michelle Pratt:

Flying with Car Seats: What You Need to Know Before You Go

Tips to Keep Kids Cool in their Car Seats

7 Tips to Avoid Leaving a Child in a Hot Car



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