Booster seat ratings only matter if seat is installed properly - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Law enforcement says booster seat ratings only matter if seat is installed properly

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After five years of research and tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports a record number of new booster seats with the highest possible safety rating.  Safer seats are a step in the right direction, but proper installation is key.  Eric McClung, trooper first class with the West Virginia State Police, says if the seat is not installed properly it is a useless device. He explains it can become a flying object in the vehicle with the weight of a child in it.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says children in booster seats are 45% less likely to sustain injuries than children restrained by only seat belts.  Christina White from Madison is a mother of four.  Her youngest, Preston, is five years old and uses a booster seat.  She says, "you never know what's going to happen or when you're going to get into an accident, so it's click it or ticket when you get into my ride".

Manufacturers actually recommend children under the age of 12 to use booster seats, but what really matters is if the child can safely fit into an adult seat belt.  Trooper McClung says the seatbelt should fit like it does on an adult: across the shoulder and chest with the lap belt across the waist.  West Virginia state law requires a child use a safety seat up until 8 years of age or until the child reaches 4'9'' in height.

Child safety seat installation is different for each seat and vehicle, so be sure to do your homework.  Trooper McClung says, "if you don't take the time to read the vehicle's owner's manual and the child safety seat instructions, you could be installing it wrong".

Even experienced parents say there's always something new to learn.  Trooper McClung says child safety seats are constantly changing as technology evolves, so there are always new tips to ensure your child is as safe as possible.

Remember to register your safety seat with the manufacturer in order to be notified of any recalls.  Also pay attention to the seat's expiration date.