by Julie Snyder
Car seat safety checklist
Each year thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes.
In the United States, they're the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old.
Both cars and car seats offer many safety features.
How about yours? You can print out this article and walk out to your driveway.
You can go through the list below and find out whether your child's car seat is as safe as it should be.
According to the Safe Kids Worldwide and the General Motors Foundation, parents make five critical, but fixable, mistakes when using car seats.
Please take this 15-minute checkup and make sure your kids are buckled in safely.
Do you have the right seat?
Read the label on your car seat. Is it appropriate for your child's age, weight and height? Has it expired? Just like milk, your car seat has an expiration date. Double check the label on your car seat to make sure it's still safe.
Is it in the right place?
Our kids are certainly very important people. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all children in the back seat until they're 13; it's safer.
Is it facing the right direction?
You want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, usually until around age 2.
The "age 2" recommendation isn't a deadline, but rather a guideline to help parents decide when to make the transition. Smaller toddlers can benefit from remaining rear-facing longer.
Does it pass the inch test?
Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
And the pinch test?
Buckle your child in. Is the harness snug and coming from the correct slots? You may have to check the car seat's manual. With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child's shoulder. If you can't pinch any excess webbing, you're good to go.
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com