Have you ever had your carseat installed by a well-intentioned family member or friend and it just seemed off somehow? When you went to put your child in the seat, it tipped really easily?
Duhn Duhn Duhn! It was installed using the wrong belt path!
Use the wrong belt path and the carseat won’t protect as it should. In a crash, it will rotate around the belt path and if that belt path is several inches away from the seat belt/LATCH anchors, the results could be disastrous.
Using the wrong belt path isn’t limited to rear-facers. It can be even more damaging to forward-facing kids if the tether strap isn’t attached. In these situations the child’s head can be slammed into the vehicle seat or front center console that’s in front of them, or even the side pillar structure of the vehicle.
Rear-facing or forward-facing – it’s vital to make sure that you are installing the carseat using the correct belt path!
Watch this video from the Child Passenger Safety Board demonstrating using the wrong belt path. The carseat on the left has the seat belt threaded through the rear-facing belt path (incorrect). The carseat on the right has the seat belt threaded through the forward-facing belt path and the top tether attached (correct).
What can you do? Look for labels marking the correct belt path. They’re there. Read the manual that came with the carseat. If you can’t find it, look online or call the manufacturer and they’ll send you a new one. Give your kid a fighting chance if the time comes that the carseat is needed as a safety device.