Before you hit the road, be sure your children are buckled up safely. Find the right seat for their age, height and weight, and follow these car seat safety tips, to make sure that every ride, no matter how short or long, is a good one.
- Infants and toddlers should be in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 2 years old, or until they reach the highest weight or height limit for their car seat.
- This provides the most protection for their head, neck, and spine.
- If your child exceeds the height and weight limit of the car seat before age 2, you can buy a bigger rear-facing seat.
- For most children, forward-facing seats can be used from age 2 until the child is at least 4 years old.
- Many forward-facing seats with harnesses can go up to 65 pounds or more.
- It is important to keep them in the forward-facing seat until they outgrow it, because car seats provide more protection than a booster seat. For more information on booster seats, go here.
- When selecting a car seat, make sure that it is age-, height- and weight-appropriate, has not expired, been recalled or been in an accident. It is best not to buy a used car seat from a garage sale, thrift store or over the Internet, because you can not confirm if it has been in an accident or not.
- Check the car seat manufacturer’s instructions, as well as your car owner’s manual, to find out how to best install the seat, as this can vary from one seat to the next.
- Car seats should be placed in the back seat. All children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat, away from front seat air bags.
- Lock the seat in place using either the car’s seat belt-locking feature, or the car’s lower anchors attachments.
- Do not use both the seat belt and the lower anchors, unless the car seat manufacturer allows it.
- You should choose the method that gives you the best fit, but be sure to use the seatbelt if the weight of your child and car seat exceeds 65 pounds.
- The car seat should be attached tightly, and not move more than an inch from side-to-side or front-to-back. Make sure to connect and tighten the car seat’s tether to the tether anchor attachment in the car.
- When your child is in the seat, the chest clip should be at armpit level, and the harness straps should be snug. To make sure the straps are tight enough, pinch the strap an inch below your child’s shoulder between your thumb and index finger. If there is excess, you need to tighten the straps.
- If you have questions or concerns about your car seat, a certified technician can help, or even double-check your work. Find a car seat check-up event or certified technician in your area here.
- Check to see if your car seat has been recalled here.
- Car seats do expire, be sure to double-check the label on the seat, to make sure it is still safe to use.
- Replace car seats that have cracks, missing pieces, straps that are worn out, or if the seat has been involved in a crash.
- Never leave your child alone in the car. Temperatures inside the car can rise quickly when it is warm outside, and heatstroke can occur within minutes. Learn more about preventing heatstroke here.
- Do not attach anything to the car seat that did not come with the seat, like mirrors or toys. Make sure any toys that are brought into the car are soft and will not injure your child. Before traveling, secure all loose objects and toys, to protect everyone in the car.
When used correctly, child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.
- Safe Kids Worldwide