More than half of all car seats are not installed properly, putting children at risk when they are on the road. Here are a few tips for installing your child’s car seat correctly:
- Find the best seat. The back seat is the safest place for children under the age of 13 but not all seats are built to handle a car seat. Be sure and check your owner’s manual for the best position for a safety seat. If you have more than one child in a car seat, consider placement that will allow each passenger to ride safely and comfortably.
- Use the belt or the latch. Car seats come with latches meant to connect to a seats lower anchors or with spaces for the seat belt to secure them to the seat. Choose one or the other but not both. Lower anchors have a weight limit of 65 pounds which includes the weight of the seat and your child. When your child reaches that weight limit you must stop using the latches and switch to using the seat belt.
- Make it snug. A properly installed seat should not move more than one inch in any direction when pulled or pushed. It may be helpful during installation to use your body weight to push down on the seat while pulling the seat belt to ensure the tightest fit. Make sure as you pull the belt that you hear the ‘click’ of the belt locking into place.
- Use the top tether. With a front-facing car seat the top tether provides extra security and reduces the forward motion of the seat in a crash. You can, and should, use the top tether even with a seat belt. Your car’s manual will tell you the correct place to secure the top tether. Sometimes it is on the back of the seat near the floor of the car, sometimes it is near the headrest and other times it is on the ceiling.
When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to get some help from a safety expert. You can get help for free on Saturday, February 26 during a Car Seat Safety Check. Visit Safe Kids experts in Mesa or Goodyear and have your child’s seat checked.