Car Seat Installation

The following page constitutes general information regarding car seat installation and does not supersede the Manufactures Installation Recommendations or the Car Seat Laws in your State.  Always follow the Car Seat Manufacturers instructions when installing your child safety seat.

Tips for Safely Installing Car Seats

Car seats are meant to keep children safe while riding in a car but they are only effective when they are properly installed. Statistics gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that only 1 out of 4 car seats are properly installed.

Car Seat Safety for Infants

Very young babies should always be in a car seat in the rear-facing position. They should always be kept in the back seat in smaller cars or in the middle section of larger cars like a Chrysler Town and Country. Children should be kept in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 2 years old or if they have reached the weight or height limits for the car seat. Once they have reached this age, they can be switched to the front-facing position but should still remain in the back seat.

Car Seat Safety for Toddlers

Children who weigh more than 40 lbs. should ride in a booster seat when travelling in a car. Booster seats are not needed for children who weigh more than 100 pounds or for those who are taller than 45 inches. Children that are under the age of 13 may only wear a seatbelt if they pass the Safety Belt Fit Test.

When to Switch to a Seatbelt

To determine if older children are ready for a seatbelt, have the child sit in the back seat with their back and bottom flat against the seat. If the child’s knees bend at the seat’s edge then it is okay for them to use a seatbelt. Another indication that the older child is ready for a seatbelt is if the seatbelt lies across their hips and not over their stomach. Finally, if the shoulder belt covers the child’s face then they are not ready to stay in a car without a booster seat. The shoulder belt should be settled over the collarbone. If the seatbelt does not fit perfectly at any point, continue to use the booster seat.

Safe Installation of the Car Seat

Before installing the car seat, make sure to read the instructions that came with the seat. A car seat that is facing forward should lie flat against the bottom and back of the seat and should not move at all. Cars that were made after 2002 have a LATCH system installed. The LATCH system uses anchors that are permanently embedded in the car that are used for a safer car seat installation. If the car does not have a LATCH system, thread the seatbelt through the designated points in the car seat so that it buckles and is securely fastened. Make sure the car seat is a tight fit and has no room to move. Test this by trying to move the empty car seat from side to side. If it moves more than 1 inch then undo the seatbelt and try again.

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