Did you know that 85% of all baby car seats are improperly installed? And the distressing part is that 85% is just an estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)   the number is probably much higher. That means that four out of five children are riding around in a car seat that is offering them little protection against a car accident. Don t be one of those four children s parents. Properly install your car seat and protect your child. The best resource for installing a baby travel system is the user manual, but we ve come up with a few tips to aid the process.

Before Installation

User Manual   Read the user manual. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the user manual is a highly ignored resource. Most manuals have step-by-step instructions on every aspect of car seat installation. Don t think you can figure it out yourself. Read the manual. Manufacturers have gone to great lengths to make the instructions easy to understand and carry out. If you want more information than what is in the manual s instructions, be sure to check out the manufacturer s website. Most have step-by-step video tutorials on correct installation.

Harness   Adjust the car seat s harness to fit your baby before putting it in your vehicle. Believe us, it will be 100 times harder once the seat is in the car. There are usually two shoulder slots where the harness slides through. These slots make it possible for the seat to grow with your child. Sit your baby in the car seat and thread the harness through the slot that best fits your child. The top straps of the harness should hit at or just below your baby s shoulders. They should be tight on the shoulders but a comfortable distance away from the neck. If you can slide two fingers under the strap, the fit is good. Next, adjust the retainer clip so it snuggly hugs your child high on the chest.

During Installation

LATCH   Cars manufactured after 2002 are equipped with the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system. Find them in your car, slide the car seat s base onto the seat and attach. Refer to your seat s user manual to properly tighten.

Base   Install the base using the LATCH system. Once it's connected, check the angle the base is sitting at. It must sit at a 45 degree angle and shouldn t move more than an inch in any direction. When the base is secure, set the car seat onto the base. The seat should make an audible click when it snaps in place.

After Installation

Safety Checkpoints   Designated safety checkpoints have been set up across the nation. Find a location near you at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website. It s better to be safe than sorry, right? A certified technician will check to make sure you ve installed the car seat correctly, and if you haven t, they will show you how to fix the problems.

Be Diligent   Just because you installed the seat properly once, that doesn t let you off the hook from ensuring it stays that way. Each time you put your baby in the seat, check to make sure the harness is situated correctly and that the car seat base is secure.

According to the NHTSA s 2006 figures, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14   approximately four children a day. These statistics are heartbreaking, mainly because with the use of a properly installed baby car seat, some of those casualties could have been prevented. Read the user manual, follow our tips, do everything you can to protect your child. Make sure, 100% sure.

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