This Visual Shows Just How Important Proper Car Seat Use Is

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Facebook

Her viral post is making parents think about car seat safety

No parent wants to imagine getting into a car crash with their child in the backseat, but in order to keep our kids as safe as possible, we have to consider every scary possibility. One mom did just that to show what we should think about when adjusting the straps on our kids’ car seats.

In a now-viral Facebook post, mom Rachel McNamara gives a visual on car seat safety most of us probably never considered — holding the seat upside down with the child strapped in to remind us what the seat would look like were a vehicle to roll over in a crash.

In her post, McNamara initially wrote, “After strapping your child into their car seat, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable flipping it upside down. Remember that the chest clip should be at armpit level and the straps should be tight enough to pass the pinch test.”

Image via Facebook

After the image went viral, McNamara updated her post with more car seat safety information and a little clarification on her original message. “I’m not advocating that parents should be flipping their kids upside down before every car ride,” she says, “Just that they should feel confident that their child would be safe IF the car seat was flipped over in an accident. I think this is a great visual and shows just how important proper car seat use is.”

Scary Mommy spoke with car seat safety expert and pediatrician Alisa Baer, MD, aka, The Car Seat Lady to get her thoughts on McNamara’s suggestion. “Since most children are riding in car seats where the straps are way too loose on them, we obviously have not done a good job of educating parents on why the straps really need to be snug,” Baer explains. “If this [McNamara’s photo] helps convey to parents the importance of snug straps then I’m all for it, as long as we don’t see parents turning their children upside down in the car seat and dropping them on their heads.”

Baer also points out that rollover accidents are pretty rare, but of course, they do happen. If this helps parents consider that fact when tightening their child’s straps, then it can only make kids safer. Baer notes that most parents don’t tighten the straps enough, or in the correct way – which requires pulling the slack up to the shoulders and then removing the slack by pulling the “tail” – and repeating these steps several times. She suggests parents watch her video to learn the proper way to adjust car seat straps.

In her post, McNamara gives a lot of helpful car seat safety tips, such as keeping kids in a rear-facing car seat as long as safely possible, which The Car Seat Lady advocates until at least age two, but ideally, “until reaching the maximum height or weight for rear-facing in their convertible car seat, which for most kids is around 2-4 years old.”

McNamara cites the “pinch test,” which SafeKids explains: “After the harness is buckled and tightened, pinch the harness at the shoulder. A snug harness allows the fingers to slide off the webbing. If you can pinch loose webbing, the harness is not tight enough. Keep tightening until you pass the Pinch Test.”

McNamara also notes the importance of correct installation, suggesting the use of a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) in verifying the fit of your car seat both for your child and your vehicle, as well as ensuring proper installation.

With education, vigilance and current information, we’re better equipped to keep our children safe in the car. Parents like McNamara bringing the issue of car seat safety into the spotlight can only serve to increase awareness, which is always a good thing.

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