Colorado Parents Should Check Essential Equipment Before Hitting the Road
You already had a new car seat before you left the hospital, the one you ordered after reading a dozen consumer reviews, or maybe you got a hand-me-down from family or a friend. But before you drive anywhere, there are still two critical questions to ask: Is your car seat really safe, and did you install it correctly?
The Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol are warning parents to make sure they took the right steps, because the mistakes are just too common — and potentially dangerous.
Car seats are mandatory under Colorado law, and in an accident, they can make the difference between a close call and serious or fatal injuries.
CDOT and the State Patrol issued tips to avoid the top mistakes young parents make.
Take Some Tips From The Safety Experts
Tip No. 1: If you haven’t actually gotten your child seat, realize that a more-costly seat isn’t necessarily a better seat. All child car seats purchased today have to meet the same tough crash safety standards imposed by the federal government, CDOT says. A new car seat costing $40 is just as safe as the tony car seats costing $400. Why get soaked?
Tip No. 2: Avoid taking a used seat without knowing its age and history. Even pristine-looking used car seats can have their problems. Seats involved in a car accident can have hidden structural damage. The hand-me-down seat you got from your sister-in-law probably became obsolete by the time your nephew started first-grade. Car seats expire after six years. It’s mainly because the plastic and other materials will break down and lose their strength during the heat of summer and cold of winter and even sunlight exposure.
Tip No. 3: Be sure to check online for safety recalls. Defects can pop up in even the fanciest car seats, years after you or a friend purchased it. Manufacturers recalled hundreds of seat models (755,000 individual seats) for defects in 2018 alone. Go check that seat’s label right now and go online to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s recall database to see whether your seat is defective. You can look for recalls on your car and truck while you’re there and sign up for email alerts for future recalls.
Tip No. 4: Avoid putting your child in bulky winter clothing before fastening him or her in for a drive. Bulky clothes create a loose fit inside the seat straps, CDOT says. The fit should be snug; an extra inch or two could increase the impact of a sudden stop or collision.
Tip No. 5: Avoid the extras. Aftermarket add-ons such as toys, cupholders, mirrors, and anything that wasn’t original equipment can become a dangerous projectile in the event of an auto accident. Less clutter is more safety.
Tip No. 6: Don’t bump up to the next-size car seat before your baby or toddler is ready. You should review the manufacturer’s recommendations in light of your child’s age and size before moving up to a bigger seat. To be sure, let a certified child passenger safety technician have a look. You can find a list of dozens of accredited inspection stations across Colorado.
Tip No. 7: Fully attach and fasten the equipment to the car’s own seat. Some new parents who purchase two-piece infant car seats will click the carrier into the base but forget to attach the base to the car. Conversely, some parents will use the seat anchor attachments and a regular seatbelt at the same time. The two restraints can interfere with each other and make the child’s seat less secure. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions.
Tip No. 8: Avoid putting your baby in front of an airbag. Infants should never ride in the front seat. The force of a forward passenger airbag deploying can cause an infant serious injury or death. If you’re driving a two-seat pickup truck and the front seat is unavoidable, then make sure the airbag mechanism is turned off, CDOT said.
You can find lots more information about car-seat safety at CarSeatsColorado.com.