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Car Seat Safety

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for children. So as a parent or caregiver, minimizing the risks associated with driving is one of the best things you can do to keep your child safe. As the driver, it means you should be particularly careful and aware when you’re behind the wheel. It also means you must choose and use the proper car seat, booster seat, or seat belt for each child passenger. Children are at a higher risk when they’re not restrained properly. When you use the right car seat in the right way, you can reduce the risk that a baby or child will be hurt or killed in a collision by up to 70%.

Before you start: Is your car seat safe to use?

 

Infant (rear-facing only) seats

A rear-facing seat gives the best protection for your baby or child’s head, neck, and spine in a sudden stop or crash. Check the labels on your seat to find out when your baby will reach the seat’s height or weight limits. Once your baby has outgrown the infant seat (usually between 6 and 12 months), use a larger, rear-facing seat. Read your vehicle manual and follow the instructions for your seat.


Installing your car seat

  • Place the car seat in the back seat, facing the back of the vehicle.
  • Attach the seat using the lower anchors (UAS) or seat belt and tighten.
  • Install the seat at the most reclined angle allowed for your newborn. Check your instructions.
  • If you use the seat belt, it must be locked.
  • The seat should move less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) where it is attached to the car.
  • Place the handle where the instructions tell you. All seats are different.

 

Buckling your baby

  • Dress your baby in light layers and add blankets over top once they’re safely buckled.
  • Make sure the harness straps are in the slot level with or below your child’s shoulders.
  • Tighten the harness straps. You should not be able to pinch the harness at the shoulder.
  • The harness should be flat with no twists.
  • Place the chest clip at your baby’s armpit level.
  • Take your baby out of the car seat when you arrive. A car seat is not a safe place for your baby to sleep.

 

Rear-facing car seats

A rear-facing seat gives the best protection for your child’s head, neck, and spine in a sudden stop or crash. Your child is safest riding rear-facing until 2, 3, or even 4 years old. Keep your child rear facing as long as they still fit within the height and weight limits for their larger, rear-facing seat. Read your vehicle manual and follow the instructions for your seat.

 

Installing your car seat

  • Place the car seat in the back seat, facing the back of the vehicle.
  • Attach the seat using the lower anchors (UAS) or seat belt and tighten.
  • If you use the seat belt, it must be locked.
  • The seat should move less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) where it is attached to the car.
  • Adjust the seat to recline at the correct angle. Check your instructions.

 

Buckling your child

  • Make sure your child’s head is at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the top of the seat. It is safe for your child’s feet to touch the back seat of the car.
  • Make sure the harness straps are in the slot level with or below your child’s shoulders.
  • Tighten the harness straps. You should not be able to pinch the harness at the shoulder.
  • The harness should be flat with no twists.
  • Place the chest clip at your baby’s armpit level.

 

Forward-facing car seats

A forward-facing seat uses a five-point harness to spread the force of a sudden stop or crash over the strongest parts of your child’s body. Keep your child in a five-point harness until they weigh at least 18kg (40 pounds). Always remember to read your vehicle manual and follow the instructions for your seat.


Installing your car seat

  • Place the car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
  • Attach the seat using the lower anchors (UAS) or the seat belt and tighten.
  • If you use the seat belt, it must be locked.
  • Attach the top tether.
  • The seat should move less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) where it is attached to the car.

 

Buckling your child

  • Make sure the harness straps are in the slot level with or above your child’s shoulders.
  • Tighten the harness straps. You should not be able to pinch the harness at the shoulder.
  • The harness should be flat with no twists.
  • Place the chest clip at your child’s armpit level.
  • Read your vehicle manual and follow the instructions for your seat.

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