JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A new survey from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration says 20 percent of parents don't read the instruction manual when it comes to installing their child's car seat.
That creates two problems: Parents don't put the seat belts through the correct slots, and the seats are too loose.
"You have to put some pressure on the seat, so most of the time you can just do it with your hand," said Cynthia Dennis, of Safe Kids Northeast Florida.
A 30-minute tutorial can make the difference between life and death for a child.
"There's really a lot of details involved in doing various car seats in various cars for different ages and sizes for children, so there's a lot to it," Dennis said.
According to Safe Kids, 73 percent of all safety seats worldwide are not installed correctly. That's why Safe Kids is holding a Seat Check Saturday at George Moore Chevrolet on Atlantic Boulevard on the Southside to help parents learn the tricks of what can often feel like an overwhelming and confusing trade.
"We're not actually installing the seat for them, we're right there helping," Dennis said. "But we want them to install it and make sure that next time they have to take the seat out and install it again, they're doing it correctly."
So what are some of the biggest mistakes parents make?
Dennis says finding the right seat that matches both their child's age and weight tends to be the biggest problem. But it can be avoided by following the guidelines printed on the side of each seat.
Dennis also demonstrated another problem with one model.
"About 30 percent of people are not using this top tether," she said. "If a child is in a forward-facing position, this needs to be hooked up and tightened. And what that does is to keep the seat from moving forward as far and that might prevent the child from so far forward that they hit their head on the seat in front of them."
In addition, parents should watch the seat's shelf life and be sure to toss it after six years of use.
They're simple things that every parent can do to bring peace of mind and ensure a safe ride.
For more information on Seat Check Saturday, go to .
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