MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Nine out of 10 car seats are installed improperly in the Palmetto State, and Myrtle Beach firefighters are trying to get ahead of that statistic by teaching people how to get it right.
Lt. Jonathan Evans at the Myrtle Beach Fire Department said some of the biggest problems with car seat installation involve the latch system, and in some cases a car seat can be too secure. "A lot of times they'll either latch it improperly, or use too many latches, or use a seat belt and a latch system which puts too much stress on the seat, so I don't recommend doing that," Evans said.
Car seats are also commonly installed at the wrong angle, which can put the child more at risk for suffocation.
Another thing Evans urges parents and caretakers to be aware of is the expiration date on a car seat. Some may pass down car seats from one child to the next, but Evans said most car seats can expire after six to eight years, depending on the seat.
If you are involved in an accident at more than 35 miles per hour, the fire department said you should replace the car seat in your car, because it could also be damaged. "If it's in any kind of car accident you should really inspect it," said Evans, "Even if you don't see something, it could be in a place you don't see."
Evans also advises parents to be sure they are purchasing the right car seat, not only for their child, but for their car. Rear-facing car seats are the safest for children. This is typically the first type of car seat a child will be seated in, and the state of South Carolina recommends keeping your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible.
The Myrtle Beach Fire Department also urges parents and caretakers to be sure they are doing their research when it comes to car seats and getting the right one for your vehicle.
"You just kind of need to check and do your research on what is the best. Look for recalls on certain things, sometimes it'll be a minor thing, sometimes it'll be a major thing," said Evans, "You need to do your research because this is your child's life and we don't want anything to happen to them."
The size of your vehicle is one factor to consider while shopping for a car seat, as well as the size of the car seat. Evans said the bigger car seats with a lot of different features may not be the best fit for your car.
"It's one of those things we're trying to get ahead of. Hopefully people come in if they have a question before they get into an accident, before they have a child even, they can come by and see us," he said.
The Fire Department will be holding a car seat safety class the first Tuesday of each month. The next class is August 1 at 5p.m.