Child Safety Seats
If you have children or transport them in your vehicle, it's essential to make sure they sit properly in the correct car seat. Children are always safer in the back seat, especially if they are under the age of 13 or riding in a car seat. Air bags present a danger to smaller children as well.
Using a car seat correctly can prevent injuries, but mistakes can easily occur in selecting the wrong seat, installation, and even buckling the wrong way is very common. Even a small error in usage can cause serious injury in a crash.
Tips to Ensure You Are Using a Child Car Seat Correctly
- Never put an infant in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag.
- Follow all instructions in the user's manual for installation. You can also find a local Child Passenger Safety Technician to help you install your seat. Some fire departments have one staff.
- Keep harness straps snug and fasten the clip at armpit level.
- Make sure the straps lie flat and untwisted.
- Dress your baby in clothes that allow the straps to go between the legs. Adjust the straps to allow for the thickness of your child's clothes. Do not use bulky clothes that could increase slack in a crash.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that children remain rear-facing from infancy through at least two years of age.
- For more information on how to properly install and use a car seat, Car Seats for the Littles is an excellent resource.
Do not use a car seat if any of the following apply:
- If it is expired. Car seats expire within six to ten years after production. If you aren't sure on the expiration date, check the label and model number.
- It has been in a crash. Always replace car seats that are involved in an accident.
- It does not come with instructions. You need the instructions to know how to install and use the car seat correctly. Get a copy of the manual from the manufacturer online.
- It has cracks in the frame of the seat.
- It is missing parts. Used seats often come without important parts. Check with the manufacturer to make sure you can get the right parts.
- If it's recalled, to find out if your child safety seat has a recall, you can call the Auto Safety Hotline (888-DASH-2-DOT). Follow the instructions for the recall or get the necessary parts. You should also get a registration card for future recall notices from the Hotline.
Is your child ready for a regular seat belt?
Keep your child in a car seat for as long as possible. When he or she is big enough, make sure that seat belts in your car fit your child correctly. The shoulder belt should lie across the shoulder and the lap belt low and flat across the hips. The child's knees should bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat. Seat belts are made for adults. If the seat belt does not fit your child correctly, he or she should stay in a booster seat until the belt fits.
Your child needs to be tall enough to sit without a booster seat and mature enough to sit properly without the reminder of the car seat. Enforcing proper posture and behavior will ensure your children are safe at all times.
Car seat safety is not negotiable; make sure you are keeping the kids in your vehicle as safe as possible.