D.C. mom shares lessons learned on proper car seat installment

Car seats. (WJLA photo)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – A D.C. blogger and mother wants to share her story about her car accident and the lessons she learned about the importance of properly installed car seats to help other parents.

Nicole Luke was on her way back from a holiday family gathering last month when her car was rear-ended. She says if it weren’t for her daughters’ safety seats, they might not be here today, because they were in the back seat when it happened.

Just about two months before the accident, Luke says she wanted to check her 3-year-old's car seat to make sure it was properly installed. She took it to a car seat safety check event and realized her 8-year-old daughter's harness on her booster seat wasn't properly adjusted.

"It just shows even when you think you know, you're not always correct as parents, so thankfully I had both car seats adjusted right before the accident," said Luke. "I'm a mom and blogger and I usually share free and cheap happenings in our area, and I felt like this was something I needed to share with D.C. parents to let them know.”

According to Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW), four out of five car seats are not properly installed. Experts say parents often pick the wrong seat for their child. Once it's installed, SKW suggests you conduct a pinch test to try to pinch the harness away from the child. If you can make a full pinch, it's too loose.

SKW also says the seat itself should pass the pinch test in that it shouldn't move more than an inch in the vehicle.

"We have a seatbelt fit test and once your child gets to be 7 or 8 years old, if the adult seat belt doesn't fit them properly, they still need to be in a booster seat," said Tareka Wheeler, the director of programs for SKW.

Wheeler says a quick way to check is to make sure the adult seat belt goes across the child's chest and the lap belt hits them at their upper thighs or their hips.

"What we find is, a lot of times, a child may graduate out of a booster seat too early and the adult seat belt is on their neck or on their stomach and we can see really serious injuries when that happens," she said.

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