Simply placing and securing your child in a car seat or booster isn’t enough. Where you place the five-point harness that secures the child into the seat is just as important, if not even more so, if an accident occurs. Position the chest clip on the child’s chest at armpit level between the nipples.
The force on impact from an accident will cause bruising on the chest, but usually nothing more. Clips that are improperly placed can cause organ damage and internal bleeding if place lower. If placed high, they can cause asphyxiation. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that up to 72 percent of car seats and boosters are secured in such a way so that injury would occur if there were an accident.
In addition to placing the chest clip at armpit level, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that parents and caregivers make sure that straps are flat and not twisted for forward and rear-facing seats. Straps should emerge from the slot at, or slightly above, the child’s shoulders. When buckled and tightened, the harness should be secure with no slack coming from the shoulder.
For additional information on how to properly secure a car seat or booster, consult Safekids.org. Many police departments also have regular car set inspections for parents who need additional guidance in installing or using a car seat.