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A Ministry of Fraciscan Sisters of Allegany

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Car Seat Safety


Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14 in the United States. Our goal is to ensure that all children are appropriately restrained in vehicles. Here are some tips to help keep your children safe in the car. 

Watch a short video about child restraints.

Remember: Car seats must be used correctly to be effective! Be sure to always read and follow both the vehicle owner's manual and the car seat instructions.

 

Rear Facing Car Seats: Step 1

 
  Forward Facing Car Seats: Step 2
  Belt Positioning Boosters: Step 3
  Seat Belts: Step 4

Step 1: Rear-Facing Car Seat

  • All infants should ride rear-facing in either an infant-only car seat or convertible car seat.
  • If an infant-only car seat is used, the infant should be switched to a rear-facing convertible car seat once the maximum height or weight limits for the infant-only seat has been reached.
  • Many infant-only seats have maximum limits ranging from 20-32 lbs and 26-32 inches and should only be used rear-facing. Check your labels carefully.
  • Rear-facing is best. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay rear-facing in a convertible seat at least until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height/weight limit (often 30-35lbs & up to 36 inches).
  • Never put a rear-facing seat in front of an airbag.
  • The seat should be semi-reclined at a 30°- 45° angle.
  • Place the child's harness straps through the slots at or below the shoulder level. Place the harness clip at child's armpit level.
  • Tighten the harness straps so they are snug. You should not be able to pinch any slack in the harness.
  • The car seat should be locked into place allowing less than 1" of movement at the belt path. Make sure the correct belt path is used.

 Watch a short video about rear-facing car seats.

Step 2: Forward- facing Car Seat

  • Children who have outgrown their rear-facing seat may ride forward-facing in an appropriate car seat.
  • Place the harness straps at or above the shoulders. Place the harness clip at armpit level.
  • Tighten the harness straps so they are snug. You should not be able to pinch any slack in the harness.
  • The car seat should be locked into place allowing less than 1" of movement at the belt path. Make sure the correct belt path is used.
  • Tethers are recommended for forward facing seats. (Note: If seat is installed with the lower anchors you MUST use the tether also.)

Watch a short video about forward-facing car seats.

Step 3: Belt Positioning Booster

  • Preferably for kids who are at least 4 years old and who weigh at least 40lbs. Both highback and backless booster seats are available (maximum weight typically 80 or 100lbs).
  • Always use with a lap and shoulder seat belt. Never use a lap-only seat belt with a booster.
  • Head support is very important. Make sure the child has head support from the booster or from the vehicle's head rest.

Watch a short video about booster seats

Step 4: Seat Belts

  • For most children who are at least 4' 9" tall (generally 8 years old and up).
  • Children under 13 years old should ride in the back seat.
  • Lap and shoulder seat belts provide the best protection. Don't let kids tuck the shoulder belt under an arm or behind their back.
  • Remember everyone should always buckle up on every ride!

Watch a short video about seat belts.

Is your car seat installed correctly?

For more information, or to have your car seat inspected for proper installation, please call (813) 870-4747 to register for one of the following upcoming classes:

  • Car Seat 101
  • Safe Baby Express
  • Car Seat Inspection (individual appointment)
  • Car Seat Check Up event (limited availability)

Do you have more car seat or other safety questions? Feel free to contact the St. Joseph's Children's Advocacy Center at (813) 615-0589.

Additional resources:

 



St. Joseph's Children's Hospital of Tampa • 3001 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. • Tampa, FL 33607 • (813) 554-8500