One of the easiest ways to protect our children is to buckle them up every time they are in the car. But too many parents, grandparents, and others allow infants to ride unprotected in cars and trucks.
Car seats can be tricky; here are some simple tips to help keep your child safe while riding in the car.
Read your car seat manual. Even the experts look at car seat manuals, because each car seat is a little different. Taking the time to read your car seat manual will educate you on the ins and outs of your specific seat.
- Keep your child rear-facing until age 2 or older. The rear-facing position is a much safer position than forward facing especially while kids are young and have much larger heads compared to the rest of their body. Keep kids rear facing as long as your car seat will help them to stay safe. Don’t worry about their legs hitting the seat they will learn to fold them and it won’t be uncomfortable.
- Keep your child in a 5 point harness as long as your car seat will allow. A 5 point harness will offer much more protection to your child than the seat belt alone. Car seats are available with higher weight limits than ever before. Car seats that go up to 50 pounds are much more common and there are a variety of seats that go even higher.
- Boost until 4’9”. Using a booster seat until your child is 4’9” will keep your child safe and more comfortable while they ride in the car. Many children may still need to use a booster even past the age of 8.
A few additional tips to remember…
- Always use a car seat, starting with your baby’s first ride home from the hospital, and always use your own seat belt.
- Read the car seat manufacturer’s instructions and always keep them with the car seat.
- Read your vehicle owner’s manual for important information on how to install the car seat correctly in your vehicle.
- It is always safest to have children ride in the back seat of the car.
- Never place a back-facing car seat in the front seat of a car that has airbags.
- Never have children share seat belts.
- Utah law requires children to ride in booster seats until they are 8 years old.
- In order to know when your child is ready to transition to a seat belt parents should observe how their child sits in the seat without the booster. Look to see if your child’s knees bend over their seat with their back and bottom against the vehicle seat back. The seat belt should come across their checks and across their upper thighs.
Do NOT use a car seat that:
- Is too old. Look on the label for the date it was made. If it is more than 10 years old, it should not be used. Some manufacturers recommend that car safety seats only be used for 5 to 6 years. Check with the manufacturer to find out how long the company recommends using their seat.
- Was in a crash. It may have been weakened and should not be used, even if it looks fine.
- Does not have a label with the date of manufacture and model number. Without these, you cannot check on recalls.
- Does not come with instructions. You need them to know how to use the car seat.
- Has any cracks in the frame of the seat.
- Is missing parts. Used car seats often come without important parts. Check with the manufacturer to make sure you can get the right parts.
- Has been recalled. You can find out by calling the manufacturer or the Car Seat Recall Hotline at 1-800-424-9393.
If you still have questions there are many certified child passenger safety technicians throughout Utah who are trained to help you install your seat correctly. Go to clickitutah.org to find a fitting station near you. You can also get information and installation videos at www.safekids.org.