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. A Florida law enacted in 2015 requires all children through age 5 to be in safety or booster seats, as well.
When it comes to car seats, Safe Kids Worldwide offers the following suggestions:
- 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 comes time to have the seat face forward, 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, make sure to pay attention to the weight limit for the car seat.
- Your car seat has an expiration date- it’s usually around six years. Find and double check the label or owner’s manual.
- To make sure the car seat is installed properly, use the inch test and the 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 are unable to pinch excess webbing, everything is fine. With the inch test, give a good tug on the car seat’s base once it is installed. A properly installed seat will 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 about your car seat, you can set up a time to have a certified child passenger safety technician examine and correctly install the seat. Download Children's Services Council's free app, SafeMap, in the iTunes and Google Play store to find a location near you. Learn more by clicking here.
- 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 under 13 years old should sit in the back seat to avoid injuries from air bags going off.
- If you need help getting a carseat or booster, please reach out to Safe Kids Palm Beach County at 561-242-5700.
• Safe Kids Worldwide
• Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County