When expectant parents near their due date it’s important they have everything ready to go for their baby, including the family car.
Getting your vehicle ready for a newborn starts with making sure you have an infant car seat that’s not recalled or expired.
"A car seat can expire after about six years just from the wear and tear from being in a car and the different cooling and warming
temperatures," says Jenni Masterson, Carr Center child passenger safety technician.
You should read both your car seat and vehicle manuals. The car seat should be in the back seat of your vehicle away from airbags, facing the rear, and it’s important that it’s level.
"There are some tricks to fitting a car seat if it won’t get level. We use what we call ‘pull noodles’ to boost up the bottom of the seat, so that we can move it back a little bit," she says.
One of the biggest mistakes the Carr Center sees when checking car seats is parents are using both the tether system and the seat belt system at the same time.
"It’s not necessary, you only need to use one or the other. A lot of people are not using the tethers when the seats turning forward. It’s
really a great way to prevent neck injuries," says Masterson.
If you have an older vehicle it may not be equipped for the tether system. Masterson says check with car dealerships who may do the
update for free. Once your seat is anchored to the vehicle, make sure it’s attached tightly.
"Where the seat belt path is you want to take your weakest hand and pull on that and if it doesn’t budge more than an inch with your
weakest hand at the belt path, then you can pretty well be sure that that’s installed correctly," she says.
You should also make sure there are no projectiles in the vehicle that could hit the child in the event of a crash and the harness should be at or below the infant’s shoulder.
Masterson says an infant car seat is able to be properly installed in most vehicles.
If you would like to have your car seat checked for free to see if it’s properly installed contact the Carr Center at 453-5417. They also
have a program that can provide free infant car seats to lower income families.