Most in La Crosse are not properly installing car seats

County says 96 percent of seats were not properly installed this year

Almost every car seat inspected by the La Crosse County Health Department this year was not installed properly.

Vehicle deaths are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 4.

That’s why health educators in La Crosse are hoping more information on how to properly install a car seat could potentially save a life.

When it comes to installing a car seat properly, tight is better than loose.

“Frequently one of the reasons parents bring their seats in that they struggle to get they struggle to get them in tightly,” Maggie Smith, health educator with La Crosse County Health Department, said. “When it’s in nice and tight, you want it to move less than one inch side to side.”

Smith said the car seat industry continues to evolve, making it challenging for parents to keep up.

“The industry is coming newer technology, safer technology, but sometimes that complicates things for parents,” Smith said.

But not properly installing a car seat, experts said, could turn your ride into a tragedy.

“Anything loose in a crash is going to continue to get moving after the crash happens, after the car or vehicle does stop,” Erica Kane, trauma and injury prevention coordinator for Gundersen Health System, said. “So that does mean that people and children could be ejected from the vehicle, if they become ejected from their car seat.”

Another big concern among educators is the improper placement of the seat’s harness.

“It needs to be tight enough so you can’t pitch any excess webbing when your child is in here. So you put them in here, you tighten it up each time. Making sure there’s no extra here, and the harness is at the armpit level,” Smith said.

“If the straps of the harness on the car seat are not tight on the child, the child could be ejected from the vehicle.”

And depending on your vehicle, it’s always best to do a little reading if you have any concerns.

“We really recommend reading your the manual for both your car and your seat,” Smith said.

Another big concern among experts is when parents stop requiring children to ride in a booster seat too early.

Wisconsin requires children to remain in booster seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches, under age 8, or under 80 pounds.

The county does offer car seat checks in partnership with Brenengen Auto group every first Thursday of the month through September at Brenengen’s West Salem location, as well as the second Thursday of the month at Brenengen’s Onalaska location.