child passenger safety
child passenger safety
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table of contents
Installing Child Safety Seats................................................. 02
Rear-Facing Seats................................................................ 04
Forward-Facing Seats.......................................................... 06
Belt-Positioning Booster Seats............................................ 08
Seat Belt Systems................................................................ 09
Basic Safety Tips.................................................................. 10
Avoid These Dangerous Mistakes........................................ 11
Children & Airbags................................................................ 12
Match The Child To The Vehicle........................................... 13
installing child
safety seats
A certified child passenger safety technician can check the installation of your
child safety seat and answer questions. Contact the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA) for more information.
Child safety seats are required by law in every
state because they provide the best protection
for infants and young children. However, correctly
installing a child safety seat can be challeng-
ing, especially with the wide variety of restraint
child restraint
systems, vehicle belt systems and passenger
vehicles available on the market today.
Newborns — 12 months
Children under the age of 1 should always ride in a rearfacing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing
car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing.
Select & install
the right seat
Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher
height and weight limits for the rear-facing position,
allowing you to use it for a longer period of time.
1 — 3 years
Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best
way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a
It’s important to follow these guidelines:
Select a child safety seat based on your
child’s age and size.
weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once
your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, they are ready
to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
Always refer to the child safety seat instruc-
tions and vehicle manufacturer’s instructions
for weight limits, proper use and installation.
rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or
4 — 7 years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a
Avoid seats that are too old. All manufactur-
harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight
and manufacture date on each seat they
child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness,
ers are required to include the model number
limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your
produce. It can be found on a label attached
it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
side of the seat. Most manufacturers recom-
8 — 12 years
to the restraint, usually on the bottom or the
mend replacing any child safety seat over
6 years old.
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is
big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. The lap belt
New child safety seats have a registration
must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach.
the manufacturer so you can be notified of
and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember:
card to the manufacturer, or register on the
it’s safer there.
card. Register your child’s safety seat with
The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder
any recall. To register, mail your registration
children should always ride in the back seat because
manufacturer’s website.
Source: NHTSA
In a crash, a rear-facing car seat cradles and
moves with the child to reduce the stress to
the fragile neck and spinal cord.
Use your hand to press the child safety seat tightly into the
vehicle seat. If you are still unable to attain a tight fit, put
your weight into the child safety seat, compress the vehicle
seat and tighten the seat belt as much as possible. The
infant seat should not move more than 1 inch from side to
side and front to back at the belt path.
Get A Professional Opinion
A certified child passenger safety technician can check the
installation of your child safety seat and answer questions.
Contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) for more information, or locate an inspection
station here:
steps for securing your child
Top of the child’s head should be no closer than one
inch to the top of the plastic shell (rear-facing infant
seat/convertible seat only). Coverings may exceed
the top of the plastic shell.
2 Always keep harness straps snug, straight
and flat. The straps should be positioned
at or below the shoulders.
3 The harness chest clip keeps the shoulder straps in
the correct position. The clip should be at the middle
of the chest, level with the armpits.
4 Make sure the vehicle seat belt is in
the correct path securing the infant seat.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Rolled receiving blankets on either side of the child can
provide support. Position receiving blankets from the top
of the hips to the top of the head to provide support. DO
NOT put rolled blankets around the head or underneath
the child’s head/neck.
Looking forward
As with the infant seats, it is imperative that forward-facing seats are
correctly installed in your vehicle and the harnesses securing your child
to that seat are properly aligned to his or her body. As babies grow into
toddlers, they are often able to manipulate harness straps and clips
themselves, so it is more important than ever to ensure that:
•The harness straps are snug, straight and flat;
•The harness chest clip is at the middle of the chest
and level with the armpits;
•The mid-point of the back of the child’s head is not above
the top of the plastic shell.
Types of forward-facing seats:
Convertible seats can convert from rear-facing to forward-facing.
Combination seats have a 5-point internal harness system
to secure a child up to 40 pounds or higher. The 5-point
harness seat must be secured to the vehicle. With the removal
of the internal harness, it then can be used as a high-back
belt positioning booster (BPB) seat. Read the manufacturer’s
instructions for more information. Combination seats CANNOT
be used in a rear-facing position.
Always use the top tether with any forward-facing car seat if your vehicle
has top tether anchors.
steps for securing your child
Mid-point of the back of the head should not
be above the top of the seat’s plastic shell.
ome seats have shoulder pads attached to
2 S
the straps. If used, the pads must be properly
positioned on the child’s shoulders. Read the
manufacturer’s instructions for proper use.
arness straps should be threaded through
3 H
reinforced slots at or above your child’s
shoulders, never below.
arness clip should be fastened at the middle of
4 H
child’s chest and level with armpits.
5 Harness straps should be snug, straight and lay flat.
With combination seats, if shoulders are above the
highest harness slots, internal harness should be
removed and the restraint should be used as a belt-
positioning booster with the vehicle lap/shoulder belt.
booster seats
All children whose weight or height is above the forward-
facing limit for their harnessed child safety seat should use
a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits
properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in
height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
Why use booster seats?
Booster seats raise the child so that your vehicle’s safety
belts are properly aligned to the child’s body and fit across
the collar bone and thighs just as they would on an adult.
There are two types of booster seats: the high-back and
those without a back. The high-back features built-in head
and neck restraints proportioned for children. The backless
booster relies on head and neck protection built into the
vehicle’s seat.
Things to keep in mind when using a booster seat:
The vehicle lap belt should fit snugly across
the child’s upper thighs while the shoulder
belt is snug across the chest.
Never use pillows, towels or books as a booster seat.
Always use vehicle’s combined lap/shoulder safety
belts with boosters. Using one without the other
can compromise your child’s safety.
Never allow children to play with hard toys or other
objects. They can become dangerous projectiles
during hard braking or crash situations.
seat belt
Once your child outgrows a booster seat (usually 4 ft. 9 in.
or taller) you still want to make sure that the vehicle’s safety
belt is being worn the way it was designed and tested to
be used.
Big kids still need to buckle up
Children should sit straight against the back of the vehicle
seat with knees bent comfortably at the edge of the seat.
Note that if your child’s legs stick out straight, they are not
yet ready to leave the booster seat.
Things to keep in mind when using a seatbelt system:
Children should sit up straight, back against the
vehicle seat with knees bent comfortably at the
edge of the seat.
Shoulder belt should be snug across the chest and
the vehicle lap belt fits snug and low over the upper
thighs, never across the stomach.
Never put a small child in a seat belt. The incorrect
placement of the lap shoulder belt can cause serious
injuries in a crash.
Never put a shoulder belt behind the back
or under the arm.
basic safety tips
Avoid seats that are too
big for your child
Always use a seat that is appropriate
to your child’s weight and height.
Getting the correct angle
when not using the base
If you do install an infant seat without the base, make sure you get the
correct angle. Rolled towels or foam
noodles may be used at the crack
of the vehicle seat to position most
infant seats to the correct angle
(approximately 30 to 45 degrees).
Read the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the correct angle
and if the seat allows the use of
rolled towels or foam noodles. Not
all infant seats can be installed
without the base. Always check
the owner’s manual to be sure.
Never put a rear-facing
child safety seat in a
forward-facing position
Keep your child in a rear-facing
safety seat until he or she
reaches the top height or weight
limit allowed by the car seat’s
Position infant seat
at the correct angle
Read the manufacturer’s instructions
to determine the correct angle
(normally 30 to 45 degrees) for your
child’s infant seat. An upright angle
could force the child’s head to tilt
forward and obstruct breathing.
Take the wraps off
Remove bulky clothing or blankets
before placing the child in the
restraint system. Never place
blankets underneath or behind the
child, or inside the harness system.
Never let children
ride unrestrained
Most states require children
under four years old to be
properly restrained in an
approved child safety seat.
avoid these
dangerous mistakes
Riding Shotgun
“Child Crusher” Position
Never hold a child on your lap in a
moving car, even if you are buckled
in — especially in the front seat. No
human being is strong enough to
hold a child in the event of a collision,
and the unrestrained child is placed
in additional risk from the vehicle’s
air bags. Children should always be
properly restrained in the back seat.
Although children may want to sit
up front with the driver, this puts
them too close to the dashboard
and the passenger side air bag
which, if it deploys, can seriously
injure a child.
Riding With A Backpack
Children should never wear
backpacks in the vehicle
because they can interfere
with the effectiveness of
restraint systems.
A Lack Of Restraint
Never let a child ride in a moving
vehicle without proper restraint for
their weight and size.
Partial Restraint
Never use seat belts other than
as intended — with both the
shoulder harness and lap belt
in proper positions.
Hard Toys
Don’t allow children to play with
hard toys or other objects that
can become dangerous projectiles
during hard braking and crash
situations. Keep an assortment
of soft toys and plush animals
ready for in-car entertainment. Don’t
hang toys from infant seat handles.
They can dislodge in a crash.
children & air bags
Air bag
Warning labels
Many newer vehicles are equipped with air bags, and even
inflatable seat belts, to help protect both front and rear
seat occupants. By law, all restraint systems are required
to have an air bag warning label. If you’re not sure about
your vehicle, it’s simply a matter of looking for the warning
There’s a good reason that all car manufacturers are
labels provided by the manufacturer, which can be found in
restraint systems, or “air bags.” They are designed to inflate
• Seat belts
required to display warning labels regarding inflatable
with tremendous force and speed, and can cause serious
injury or death to children, especially infants in rear-facing
child safety seats.
That’s why it’s always a good idea for children under 13
years of age to be properly restrained in the back seat
of the vehicle.
a variety of locations, including:
• Vehicle sun visor
• Side of seat
In general, children under 13 years of age
should always be seated in the back of the
vehicle and protected by size-appropriate
safety restraints.
match the child seat
to the vehicle
Lower anchors
& tethers for
children (latch)
LATCH is an acronym for Lower Anchors and Tethers for
Children and describes an alternative, simplified way to
attach the child safety seat to the vehicle. LATCH systems
secure a child safety seat to the vehicle’s rear seats using
straps from the child safety seat that connect to special
metal anchors built into the vehicle. However, unless both
the vehicle and the child safety seat are designed to use
the LATCH system, the vehicle’s safety seat belt will need
Upper tether
to be used to secure the child safety seat instead. The
LATCH system and the vehicle’s seat belt system should
never be used together.
If you’re not sure about your vehicle, read the
manufacturer’s instructions to determine if it is equipped
with the LATCH system, to locate the latch anchors,
For forward-facing seats, you must use both the lower
attachments and the top tether strap. Most rear-facing seats
do not allow for the use of the upper tether. Read your child
safety seat instructions for proper use.
and look up the recommended weight restrictions. It is
important to note that installing child safety seats with
either the vehicle’s seat belt or the LATCH system is
equally safe as long as the child safety seat is installed
correctly and fits securely in the vehicle.
Compatibility issues
Pickup Truck Jump Seats
Child safety seats cannot be used safely
in side-facing pickup truck jump seats.
Never try to position a child safety seat
in a jump seat.
Seat Buckles
Older vehicles with the seat belt buckles
on extended webbing, instead of fixed
into the seat, can make it difficult to install
a child safety seat in the correct position.
Contoured Seats
Cars with deep bucket seats or contoured
to accommodate a hump in the center
can make it difficult or impossible to
install a child safety seat in the correct
position. To be sure a child safety seat will
Special needs
fit properly in your vehicle, try installing it
before you purchase it.
Locking Clips
Some older vehicle seat belt systems
Premature infants and children with respiratory difficulties,
require additional hardware, such as a
problems may require special child restraints. Depending
Newer seat belt systems have a built-in
vehicle can accommodate its unique requirements. For
manufacturer’s instructions to determine
(AAP) at
the child safety seat.
orthopedic challenges, neurological and behavioral
locking clip, to secure the child restraint.
on your child’s needs, you will want to make sure that your
locking mechanism. Refer to the vehicle
more information, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics
whether to use a locking clip to secure
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