Car Seat Safety Tips

In this age, with information flying at us from every direction, no parent is ignorant of car seat safety. The AAP updated their guidelines (and several states have enacted new laws) to keep toddlers rear facing until a minimum of two years old.

But once parents have turned their child, whether at two or four years old, there is a critical step that many parents skip over. They attach the forward facing harness seat with the LATCH system, and they secure the five point harness. But they miss (or skip) the top tether, thinking that it's really not necessary. 

According to a new study, 64% of parents aren't using the top tether, and of those that were, half of those parents weren't attaching it correctly. When parents were asked why, the reason was pretty straightforward: a lot of parents either didn't know it existed, or assumed it was an alternate way to secure the seat. After all, you are discouraged from securing with both LATCH and the seatbelt on the lower anchors, so it's not too far a leap.

But the top tether is actually critical to a forward facing seat. It prevents the seat from toppling forward during an accident. An untethered seat can pitch forward up to six inches, which puts the child's head in great danger of hitting the front seats.

The anchor is easy to attach once you know where it is. It may be tucked into the back of the seat, but it's a similar strap to the lower anchors. The LATCH point in the car will be indicated by a boat anchor symbol. In a sedan, it's typically on the rear shelf (sometimes the ceiling), and in an SUV or minivan, it's usually on the ceiling or the back of the seat. If you can't find it, don't blow it off or attach the strap to just anywhere. Look in your manual, do a search online for your vehicle, or contact someone familiar with your car. Fire stations are also great at helping make sure the seat is as safe as can be.

It's a little thing, but it can make the difference between a minor fender bender or slip on the ice causing nothing but a shaky experience or causing a brain injury. 

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