• Parenting
  • Safety

Using the right car seat — correctly installed — saves lives

  • Posted
Child in car seat

If an infant is in a properly installed safety seat, the risk of death drops as much as 71 percent in a serious collision. Yet, studies have found that 73 percent of car seats are either not used or installed incorrectly.

And don't forget older children. Florida law requires children through age 5 to ride in safety or booster seats.


  • Know your car seat’s history. Once a seat has been in a crash, it needs to be replaced. Be wary of buying seats from thrift stores or second-hand.
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible, usually until about 2 years old. Consult the weight and height limit on the seat itself. Rear-facing seats give children the maximum amount of protection for the head, neck and spine.
  • When it's time for a forward-facing seat, make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or secure the anchors. Use the top tether until the child weighs 40 pounds. As your child grows, remember the weight limit for the car seat.
  • Your car seat has an expiration date, usually around six years. Find and double-check the label or owner’s manual.
  • Ensure the car seat is installed properly by using the inch test and pinch test. With the pinch test, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder after the chest clip is buckled at armpit level. If you can't pinch excess webbing, it's fine. With the inch test, give a good tug on the car seat’s base once installed. It should not move more than an inch.
  • Don’t use the lower anchors and seat belt at the same time.
  • If you have questions or concerns, you can set a time for a certified child passenger safety technician to examine and install the seat. Find locations via Children's Services Council's free app, SafeMap. Click here to download it for iOS or click here for Android.
  • Use a booster seat until your child is about 4 feet, 9 inches, 8 to 10 years old and around 80 to 100 pounds. A booster seat and seat belt rather than a seat belt alone greatly reduces the risk of injury.
  • Children younger than 13 should sit in the back seat to avoid injuries from airbags activating.
  • If you need help getting a car seat or booster, reach out to Safe Kids Palm Beach County at 561-841-3500, ext. 4011.

Safe Kids Worldwide
Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County

Back to listing

For a listing of all resources, click here.
Additional Resources
You May Also Enjoy
  • Look and look again in driveways — cars are big; kids are small

    In recent years, more than 1,150 children have died after cars backed over them in driveways. Almost all of them were younger than 5 years old, and in many cases, the driver was a family member. Read on for expert tips to prevent a tragedy.

  • What to seek in quality child care

    Quality infant and toddler care, with low child-to-teacher ratios, is always the hardest type of child care to find. That means expectant parents should start looking before their baby is born. Here are some tips that can help from a local expert.

  • Tips on babyproofing your home

    Expecting a baby? Read on to find out how best to prepare your home — and your life — for the big transition ahead. And if you’re on a tight budget, experts advise where to get affordable baby supplies and gear.