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How to Properly Install a Car Seat
October 29th, 2015

How to Properly Install a Car Seat

Did you know 7 out of 10 car seats are not properly installed? Making sure you properly fit and secure your child’s car seat is imperative to their safety. If your child is not secured properly they can be injured in accidents with speeds as low as 5 mph.

Car seats should be installed in a rear-facing position in the back seat. It is recommended that the car seat be placed in the middle of the backseat. This is especially true if your car has side airbags. It is wise to check with the manufacturer of your car to better understand the manner of which your car’s airbags will deploy in the event of a car accident. Never use a rear-facing car seat in a front passenger seat that is fitted with an air bag.  Not only is this extremely dangerous it is also illegal.

The following are helpful tips to remember while installing a car seat:

  • Infants from birth to 3 years old should typically be in a rear-facing child safety seat (or a convertible child safety seat turned to face the rear of the vehicle), installed in the back seat.
  • Children between the ages of 1 and 7 years old can generally be in a forward-facing, forward-facing only, or convertible child safety seat, or a high-back booster or harness, installed in the back seat of the vehicle.
  • Children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old can typically be in a high-back or no-back belt-positioning booster, installed in the back seat of the vehicle.

It is important to understand that not all car seats fit every car. Check out this How to Buy a Child Safety Seat page to learn more information.

Once you know the style of the car seat that is most appropriate for the age/weight of your child, and the type of your car, the next step is to check the model and date of manufacture number on the car seat.  Make sure you are not using a car seat that has been recalled. You can check for recalls online here.

Read over the instruction manual carefully and place it in a safe place for future reference.  Also, check your vehicle owner’s manual for additional instructions that are specific to the make and model of your vehicle. Utilize the help of a professional Child Passenger Safety Technician.  They can assist with double checking your car seat installation to make sure it meets all federal motor vehicle standards. Another helpful tool is the Safecar.gov’s Car Seat Finder. The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers extensive information on car safety seat and transportation safety.

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