LATCH-Ing On To New Car Seat Safety Tips

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At the beginning of 2014, recommendations surrounding the proper usage of the LATCH system were altered to accommodate research findings that highlight how to make a child as safe as possible. The Bernard Law Group wants to make sure parents are aware of the changes and is offering tips geared toward ensuring car seat safety in other regards.

These new LATCH recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg for how to accurately assess the viability of a car seat in your own vehicle.

When it comes to placing a child into a car seat, parents basically have two options: the standard seatbelt, or the LATCH system that uses anchors at the base of the backseat to keep a car seat in place.

2014 brought changes to ideal usage recommendations that parents absolutely must be aware of. As explored in a November 22, 2013 report from Babble entitled “Parenting You Need to Know: Car Seat Changes in 2014,” labeling has been adjusted to take into account not just the weight of a child when using LATCH, but the weight of the child plus the added weight of the seat he or she is sitting in.

LATCH systems were previously not recommended for anchoring more than 65 pounds in weight, but when evaluating whether that limit is met, many parents weigh their kids yet fail to take into account the bulk of the seat itself. On January 1, labels were updated to reflect the idea that 65 pounds between the child AND the seat is the maximum weight that should be anchored by a LATCH system. If the child plus the car seat weighs more than that, the seat belts are to be used in place of LATCH anchors (the top tether should continue to be used).

Although these changes may not be all that hard for parents to adjust to, the Bernard Law Group is still trying to make the transition as smooth as possible by reviewing some of those other practices parents should engage in. Lead attorney Kirk Bernard understands how beneficial proper car seat usage can be, and he wants the rest of the world to see this too.

“No matter how long or short a trip,” said Mr. Bernard, “car seats can save lives. These new LATCH recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg for how to accurately assess the viability of a car seat in your own vehicle. An overwhelming number of parents do something wrong when they’re installing car seats, and unfortunately, all it takes is one small mistake to undermine the car seat’s ability to offer the maximum amount of protection during a crash.”

The following tips from the Bernard Law Group can be exercised by those parents hoping to protect their children from harm:

1. Seek Help- Law enforcement organizations across the country and groups like Safe Kids Worldwide hold car seat checks on a regular basis. At such events, parents are invited to bring their vehicles and their children’s safety seats in to be checked by a professional. These technicians will teach parents the proper techniques without the parent having to fear some sort of legal repercussions. It’s a friendly environment designed to foster education.

2. Height and Weight Carry More Import Than Age- Many parents steadfastly refuse to place their children in a given car seat once they reach a certain age (and may even round up the child’s age so they have an excuse not to place the child in the seat). The truth is that weight and height are far more important than age when determining whether a child is ready to move from a rear-facing unit to a forward facing seat, a forward facing seat to a booster, or a booster to a seatbelt. For more in-depth guidelines on height and age restrictions, see this fact sheet from the CDC.

3. Set a Reminder- Although hot car warnings typically get issued at the beginning of the summer in a bid to protect children from being left in a car in the sweltering heat, leaving a child in a car in the dead of winter isn’t exactly safe either. Get in the habit of placing your purse or briefcase in the seat next to the child so that you’ll have to look back there whenever you leave or else set a stuffed animal in the car seat that you can place next to you as a reminder that a child is occupying the seat.

4. Bundle Up Carefully- Parents certainly want to keep their children as warm as possible, but sometimes a child gets so bundled up that their myriad coats leave too much space between their body and the straps of the car seat. Parents must make sure that straps are cinched sufficiently tight, regardless of coat size.

Kirk Bernard has been protecting the rights of Washington personal injury victims for 30 years, achieving landmark court victories and settlements in the process. The Bernard Law Group provides legal representation for those injured in bicycle collisions, workplace accidents, medical malpractice situations, defective drug incidents, premises liability cases, and more. Persons interested in a free consultation should click on this link to learn more.

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Megan Castello
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