Children’s Seatbelt Safety Tips to Save a Life

Sometimes it’s unavoidable: a car accident. In the first dreadful moments of an accident the only thing that crosses a parent’s mind is the safety and well-being of their child. There is nothing quite as scary as the seconds between an accident and making it into the back seat to make sure that your kids are okay. We spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on car seats, booster seats, and any other car safety we can imagine to keep our kids safe, but one of the most important tools is already in the car: the seatbelt.

Using a seatbelt properly can make the difference between a small injury and a large one, and these tips are designed to make sure you are using them as effectively as possible to keep the ones you love safe. 

Safety with a car seat

In today’s modern era there are so many different types and styles of children’s car seats. While you can read a lot of the reviews online to see what people did and didn’t like, picking one out is only half of the battle. Okay, I know you’re going to hate what I’m about to say now, but reading the safety instructions and install instructions for each individual car seat is extremely important. I know, right, who reads instructions these days? 

Well, when it comes to the safety of your child, you should definitely consider it. Car seats are pretty standard regardless of brand, but ensuring that they are installed according to the instructions is incredibly important. A brief skim of the instructions and warnings can make a big difference, even if you have experience with other car seats. 

woman drives car with two car seats in the second row
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope drives with two penguins strapped into car seats in the second row. | Dean Hendler/NBCU Photo Bank

Keep out of reach of children

Even if your child isn’t old enough to use the seatbelt, that doesn’t mean that they can’t get their hands on it. In fact, if there is one thing we know about kids it is that if they can’t have it, they will somehow get their hands on it. Keeping a seatbelt out of reach can make a big difference. It might seem tricky or not worth the time, but keeping the seatbelt gently tucked out of reach can keep you out of some potentially dangerous situations. While the chances of anything bad happening are slim, they are never zero, and those aren’t stats we want to risk. 

In way of useful things to keep in your car, having some type of device that can cut a seatbelt in case of an emergency can also be useful. While unbuckling a seatbelt is always ideal if you can’t release the tensioner, sometimes using a seatbelt cutting device is more effective, and can save several moments of critical time if your child becomes entangled or trapped. 

Seat belts
Seat belts | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)


Seatbelt safety is important for more than an accident

We don’t often think of the dangers that seatbelts themself pose. As adults, we know the proper way to situate a seatbelt for ourself, and what not to do. But children may not yet, and this can cause some scary problems. Seat belts themselves can become dangerous if the child becomes tangled, and the situation can become worse if the belt tensioner keeps the seat belt from moving. According to Consumer Reports, there has been at least one case of a child become entangled in their seat belt and having the seat belt tensioner tighten around the child’s throat. 

1980s station wagon
A father pictured with his children next to their station wagon. (Photo by Images Of Our Lives/Getty Images)

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As parents, aunts, uncles, and friends of families with kids, we know how important safety is. Seatbelts are a major part of car safety, even if your child isn’t old enough to use them yet. We might sound a little paranoid, but it’s always better to be safe than to be sorry.