Buckle Up Kids: Choosing the Right Child Safety

Buckle Up Kids: Choosing the Right Child Safety
G u i d e f o r C h oo s i n g t h e R i gh t
C h il d S af e t y R e s t r ai n t an d
I n s t r uc t i o n s f o r C o r re c t U s e .
Table of Contents
General Information and
Seat Placement
Boosters — 4 to 8 Years
Choosing a safety seat ..........................1
Used safety seats ..................................2
Correctly installing safety seats .............3
Airbag warning......................................3
Harness fit.............................................4
Children in the back ..............................4
Retainer clip .........................................6
Locking clip ........................................19
Infant Restraints —
Birth to at Least 1 year
General information...............................5
Using the seat .......................................5
Convertible Restraint —
Rear-Facing Birth to at Least 1 year
General information...............................7
Using the seat .......................................7
Convertible Restraint —
Forward-Facing 1 to 4 years
General information...............................9
Using the seat .....................................10
Forward-Facing Only Restraint —
1 to 4 years
General information.............................11
Using the seat .....................................11
Integrated (Built-in) Restraints —
1 to 4 Years or 4 to 8 Years ..........12
General information..............................13
Types of boosters.................................13
Using booster seats..............................14
Specialty Restraints ......................15
Seat Belts — Over 8 years
General information..............................16
Using LATCH (Lower Anchor
and Tethers for CHildren)
to Install Child Seats..........................17
Using Tethers and Top
Anchorages to Install
Child Seats ......................................19
Using Seat Belts
to Install Child Seats ......................20
Using non-traditional seat belts............21
How to use the locking clip ..................22
Pickup Trucks and RV’s .................23
Air Travel Tips for
Child Restraint Use .........................24
Final Reminders ..............................25
Most common child passenger
safety mistakes....................................26
Web site resources ..............................27
Office of Traffic Safety
Minnesota Child Passenger Safety Program
Cover photo by Megs Molnau.
Motor Vehicle Crashes Are the
Leading Cause of Death and Disability
Among Children.
This booklet provides parents and caregivers with comprehensive
information on child passenger safety. This guide explains the different
types of child restraints, how to determine what child restraint is correct
for your child based on their age and size, and how to install child
seats properly. Ages stated are guidelines; always check child seat
manufacturer's instructions for weight limits.
■
Minnesota law requires all children age 7 and under to ride in
a federally approved child safety
seat or booster seat, unless the
child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller.
■
Minnesota law requires drivers
and all passengers to be buckled
up or in the correct child restraint.
Law enforcement will stop
and ticket unbelted motorists
or passengers.
■
The violent forces of a crash can
cause unbelted or unrestrained
motorists to be ejected from
the vehicle and seriously injured
or killed. Unrestrained vehicle
occupants can also slam into and
injure or kill others in the vehicle.
■
Seven out of 10 child safety seats
are used incorrectly in Minnesota.
■
Vehicle seats and seat belts are
built to fit adults, not children.
Properly securing children in
the appropriate restraint can
protect them during a crash
or sudden stop.
Choosing a Child Safety Seat
Choosing a Child Safety Seat
Don't Skip a Step
A child must progress through different child safety seats based on their height and weight:
■
Rear-facing seat: Newborns to at least
1 year and 20 pounds.
■
Forward-facing seat: 1 to 4 years old;
can use "convertible" (page 7) or
"combination" (page 11) styles.
■
Booster seat: For children once they
have outgrown a forward-facing seat
usually after turning 4 years old. Booster
seats are required by Minnesota law.
Children cannot ride in just a seat belt
until age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
■
Understand how to use the seat before
purchase. Try locking and releasing the
buckle, and adjusting the harness. Most
stores will allow you to take the child
seat out to your vehicle to make sure
it fits properly.
■
When you buy a safety seat, be sure
to register it with the manufacturer so
you will be notified of any safety recalls.
All new safety seats come with a registration card. If you are not the original
owner, be sure to register the seat with
your current name and address.
Selecting a Child Safety Seat
1
■
A seat that is easy to install and use
will be the best for you and your child.
Reference child seat and vehicle
instruction manuals.
■
Try the seat in your vehicle. Some
safety seats fit in some vehicles better
than others. Choose the seat that can
be held tightly against the vehicle seat
back. Read your vehicle owner’s manual
and the safety seat instructions.
■
Choose the seat that is the right size
for your child.
■
You’ll save some money if you buy one
convertible seat to do the job from birth
to at least 40 pounds, but an infant-only
seat may be easier to use and may fit
your newborn baby better.
■
A safety seat that is more than six years
old should be replaced. Normal wear
and tear may cause the seat to not
work as well as a new seat. Also, newer
seats have improved safety designs.
■
Look for a convertible seat that has a
higher weight limit (30 pounds or more)
in the rear-facing position. Use the seat
rear-facing until they reach that weight
limit. The American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends a child remain
rear-facing until at least 2 years old
if possible.
■
Combination safety seats can serve
as two of the child safety steps (noted
above). These seats include a harness
system with a set weight limit and
can be converted to a belt-positioning
booster seat. Check the seat for an
expiration date.
Used Safety Seats
Used Safety Seats
Many parents feel a used safety seat is a good bargain, others may have trouble
affording a new seat. However, any used seat could have many problems. It is not
recommended to buy seats from a garage sale or re-sale shop.
Second-Hand Child Restraints
May be OK to use if:
■ It’s not more than six years old.
■
It’s free of any recalls.
■
It has not been involved in a crash.
■
All labels are on the child restraint.
■
The instruction manual is present.
■
You know the individual who previously owned the restraint and you know
the history of the restraint.
Warning on Child Seats
Involved in Crashes
A safety seat that was used in a vehicle during a crash should not be used again —
it should be destroyed. Regardless of how the seat looks or how old it is, possible
unseen damage may make the seat less effective in a second crash and cause
serious injury to a child.
■
Check with the seat manufacturer regarding replacement after a crash.
■
Check with your car insurance company about their seat replacement policy.
2
Correctly Installing Child Safety Seats
Correctly Installing Child Safety Seats
■
Always read the instructions that
come with the safety seat and the
owner’s manual that comes with the
vehicle. In the owner’s manual, turn
to the section(s) on safety belts and
child safety seats (child restraints or
car seats).
■
Check your vehicle owner’s manual
for instructions on air bags.
loose or the safety seat slides around
on the vehicle seat, your child could
be hurt. A restraint should not shift
more than one inch side-to-side. See
pages 5 and 18 to learn techniques to
achieve a safe, tight fit.
■
Booster seats are not installed like
car seats. Be sure to buckle the child
in using the lap and shoulder belt.
Some older vehicle owner’s manuals
have little or no information on safety
seats, or the owner’s manual may be
missing. Contact the vehicle manufacturer for more information and
read labels on safety seats.
Check for air bag warning labels on
the sun visor and/or on the front of the
passenger door frame and throughout
the vehicle.
■
3
A child safety seat must be held
tightly against the vehicle seat back
to protect a child. If the safety belt is
A warning label on a child restraint.
Correctly Installing Child Safety Seats
Proper Harness Fit
The car seat harness and the safety belt hold a child in the seat for best protection
in the case of a crash. It is important that the harness is snug over the strong parts
of the child’s body. You should not be able to pinch the webbing at the child’s shoulder.
If the harness is loose, your child could be ejected in a crash. The harness must lie flat
on the child to safely spread the forces of a crash; do not allow the straps to become
twisted. Always read the instructions that come with the safety seat.
Children Under Age 13 Should Ride in Back
■
It is best for children under age 13
to ride in the rear seat; most crashes
occur in the front of the vehicle.
Even if the airbag is turned off, the
back seat is always the safest place
for children under 13 years of age.
■
Never put a rear-facing car seat
in the front seat with active airbags.
Babies (under 1 year old and under 20
pounds) should ride in the back seat
facing the rear of the vehicle. Children
should ride rear-facing as long as
their car seat allows. Check the child
safety car seat's instruction manual
for weight and height limits of the
seat. Consider purchasing a seat with
a higher rear-facing weight limit.
■
If your child must ride in the front
seat, make sure the child is correctly
buckled up with the vehicle seat
moved all the way back. Make sure
the child is being held back snugly by
the harness straps of the safety seat
or by both the lap and shoulder belt.
Use a belt-positioning booster to
ensure proper belt fit if necessary. Do
not allow the child to slip out of the
shoulder belt or lean toward the
dashboard. Read the vehicle owner’s
manual about air bags.
Airbag Safety
Air bags are effective and life-saving in the event of a crash, but they can also injure
or kill motorists who are too close to it when it deploys. Children under age 13 should
always ride in the back seat. Never put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a
vehicle with a passenger air bag.
NO!
NO!
Improperly restrained and unrestrained occupants can be severely injured by a deploying airbag.
4
Infant Rear-Facing Restraints
Infant Rear-Facing Restraints
Infant restraints are for newborns to at
least age 1 and 20-30 pounds, depending
on the seat. It is recommended to keep
a baby rear-facing as long as possible.
There are two types of infant restraints:
infant-only and convertible restraints
(see pages 7–10). Convertible seats can
also be used forward-facing once child
is at least 1 year old and 20-30 pounds
(check seat weight limits).
■
Make sure the infant safety seat is
approved for use in a motor vehicle.
Check the labels and instructions.
■
Rear-facing only.
■
Some have detachable bases.
■
Usually fits a newborn well and some
may be the best fit for premature
infants.
■
Long babies may outgrow this seat
before they reach the upper weight limit
(17–22 pounds).
■
Use only until baby’s head comes
within 1 inch of the top of the shell;
then move to a rear-facing convertible
seat until the child reaches the rearfacing weight limit.
■
Never place anything between the
child and the car seat. Doing so may
interfere with the function of the car
seat in a crash.
■
Never leave the child unattended in
the infant carrier.
■
Children under 1 year and under 20
pounds must face the rear of the vehicle
in a safety seat that is designed for
their height and weight. Children must
ride facing the rear, even when they are
out of the driver’s view in the back seat.
If the baby has special health needs
that require full-time monitoring, ask
another adult to ride with the baby in
the back seat and travel alone as little
as possible.
Using Infant Rear-Facing Restraints
5
■
Place the safety seat in the vehicle so
that its base is resting flat on the vehicle
seat cushion. If this is not possible, try
another seating position or find a safety
seat that fits better. At least 80 percent
of the safety seat base must contact the
vehicle seat.
■
Be sure the restraint is secured tightly,
not shifting more than one inch sideto-side. To achieve a tight fit, apply
pressure on seat with knee or foot and
pull to tighten the seat belt (see page
18) or the strap, if installing using the
LATCH system (page 21).
Infant Rear-Facing Restraints
Using Infant Rear-Facing Restraints, continued
■
Be sure the rear-facing safety seat is
reclined according to the manufacturer’s
instructions. Use the level indicator to
guide the angle of the seat in order to
keep infant’s head from falling forward.
A tightly rolled towel or foam swimming
noodle cut to fit the width of the base
of the safety seat may be used to
maintain angle, but be careful not to
tip the seat too far back.
■
Use the harness slot that is at or below
baby’s shoulders.
■
Be sure the straps are threaded through
the shell not just the pad. Check the
instructions.
■
The harness must fit snugly —
you should not be able to pinch any
webbing at the child's shoulders and
between the legs. A snug harness
is important, it holds the baby down
in the safety seat during a crash.
The harness is tight when no excess
fabric can be pinched.
■
The plastic harness retainer clip keeps
the straps on baby’s shoulders. Make
sure the clip is threaded correctly to
keep the strap from sliding off. Place
the clip at mid-chest, armpit level.
■
Dress the baby in clothes that keep
the legs free. If you want to cover the
baby, buckle the harness first, adjust
it for a snug fit, then put a blanket over
the baby. Avoid using bulky snowsuits
or buntings, this can make it hard to
adjust the harness snugly.
■
Some manufacturers require the handle
on an infant safety seat in the down
position when the seat is in the vehicle.
Check instructions.
■
A new baby needs support. To fill
empty spaces and give support, roll
up a couple of small blankets and tuck
them in on each side of your baby’s
body and head. If the baby still slides
down, put a rolled diaper between the
legs behind the crotch strap. Never put
padding behind or under the baby.
Rolled towel for angle when using seat
without the base.
Plastic harness retainer clip should be
at child's armpit level.
Spaces filled with cloths
6
Convertible Restraints — Rear-Facing
Convertible Restraints — Rear-Facing
Convertible restraints can be used rearfacing or forward-facing. A child should
be positioned rear-facing as long as seat
instructions permit.
After child outgrows weight limit for
rear-facing, convertible seats can be
switched to forward-facing.
Types of Convertible Restraints
Five-point harness
This seat uses two shoulder, two hip and
one crotch strap. Many safety experts
prefer this system because the straps
can be adjusted to fit snugly across the
child’s strong hipbones. Straps may twist
and tangle — keep straps flat for best
protection and snug so that no webbing
can be pinched at the child’s shoulders.
Tray shield with harness
While tray shields with a harness are
safe, it is preferable to use a 5-point
for infants.
Using Convertible Rear-Facing Seats
■
7
Make sure the convertible safety
seat you use is approved for use in
a motor vehicle. Check the labels
and instructions.
■
Use the harness strap slots that are
at or below baby’s shoulders.
■
Be sure the straps are threaded
through the shell, not just the pad.
Check the instructions.
■
The harness must fit snugly — you
should not be able to pinch any
webbing at the child's shoulders and
between the legs. A snug harness is
important, it holds the baby down in
the safety seat during a crash. The
harness is tight when no excess fabric
can be pinched.
■
Dress the baby in clothes that keep
the legs free. If you want to cover the
baby, buckle the harness first, adjust
it for a snug fit, then put a blanket over
the baby. Avoid using bulky snowsuits
or buntings, this can make it hard to
adjust the harness snugly.
■
Make sure the harness will stay snug.
Check if there is a metal slide in back
of the seat which must be locked by
threading the strap back through.
■
The plastic harness retainer clip keeps
the straps on the baby’s shoulders.
Make sure the clip is threaded
correctly to keep the strap from sliding
off. Place the clip at mid-chest, armpit
level (see photo on page 6).
■
A new baby needs support. To fill
empty spaces and give support, roll up
a couple of small blankets and tuck
them in on each side of your baby’s
body and head. If the baby still slides
down, put a rolled diaper between
the legs behind the crotch strap. Never
put padding behind or under the baby
(see photo on page 6).
■
Place the safety seat in the vehicle
so that its base is resting flat on the
vehicle seat cushion. If this is not
possible, try another seating position
or find a safety seat that fits better.
At least 80 percent of the safety seat
base must contact the vehicle seat.
■
Be sure the restraint is secured tightly,
not shifting more than one inch sideto-side. To achieve a tight fit, apply
pressure on seat with knee or foot and
pull to tighten the seat belt (see page
18) or the strap, if installing using the
LATCH system (page 21).
■
Children under 1 year and under
20 pounds must face the rear of
the vehicle in a safety seat that is
designed for their height and weight.
Children must ride facing the rear,
even when they are out of the driver’s
view in the back seat. If the baby has
special health needs that require fulltime monitoring, ask another adult
to ride with the baby in the back seat
and travel alone as little as possible.
■
Be sure the rear-facing safety seat
is reclined according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the level
indicator as a guide to keep infant’s
head from falling forward. A tightly
rolled towel or foam swimming noodle
cut to fit the width of the base of the
seat, may be used to maintain angle,
but be careful not to tip the seat too
far back (see photo on page 6).
■
Use the convertible safety seat rearfacing until the child reaches the
restraint's rear-facing weight limit.
The child can continue to face the rear
until she/he reaches the upper weight
limit. A child seat with a higher rearfacing weight limit allows you to keep
a baby rear-facing longer, which is the
safest position.
Convertible Restraints — Rear-Facing
Using Convertible Rear-Facing Seats, continued
8
Convertible Restraints — Forward-Facing
Convertible Restraints — Forward-Facing
Convertible restraints can be turned to
a forward-facing position for children
that have reached the weight and height
limits for the rear-facing seat. It is recommended to keep a child rear-facing as
long as possible.
Types of Convertible Restraints
Five-point harness
Many safety experts prefer this system
because the straps can be adjusted to
fit snugly across the child’s strong
hipbones. Straps may twist and tangle —
keep straps flat for best protection.
Tray shield with harness
While tray shield with harnesses are
safe, it is preferable to use a 5-point
for infants.
9
■
Use facing forward for children over 1
year and 20 pounds or more. Children
should ride rear-facing until they reach
the weight and height limits for the
seat. It is recommended to keep a
child rear-facing as long as possible.
■
A child should use a forward-facing
convertible restraint until they reach
the height and weight limit of the
restraint. A child is ready for a booster
seat when the top of the ears reach
top of the seat, shoulders are above
the top slots, or child reaches the
upper weight/ height limit.
■
Seats are sold with a tether strap
to anchor the top of the seat to the
vehicle. A tether strap keeps the
seat more tightly secured. For tether
anchor installation, contact your
vehicle dealer (see page 20 for more
information about tethers).
■
Place seat in the upright position so
the child is sitting up straight. Only
recline the seat if the manufacturer
allows. The more upright position is
preferred for safety.
■
If changing from rear-facing to
forward-facing, harness straps must be
threaded at or above child’s shoulders.
■
In some cases, only the top harness
strap slots on front-facing convertible
seats are reinforced. The top slots are
reinforced to prevent the harness from
breaking through in a crash. Always
check the child seat instructions for
additional reinforced slots.
■
The harness must fit snugly —
you should not be able to pinch any
webbing at the child's shoulders and
between the legs. A snug harness
is important, it holds the child down
in the safety seat during a crash.
The harness is tight when no excess
fabric can be pinched. Check harness
tightness on every ride.
■
Make sure the harness will stay
snug. Be sure the straps are threaded
correctly through the shell, not just
the pad. Check the instructions.
■
The plastic harness retainer clip
keeps the straps on the child’s
shoulders. Make sure the clip is
threaded correctly to keep the strap
from sliding off. Put the clip at midchest, armpit level (see photo on
page 6).
Convertible Restraints — Forward-Facing
Using Convertible Forward-Facing Seats
10
Forward-Facing Only (Combination) Restraints
Forward-Facing Only
(Combination) Restraints
Forward-facing only seats provide full
harness for upper body and head restraint.
Use until child outgrows it — when the
top of the ears reach top of the seat,
when shoulders are above the top slots,
or when child reaches the upper weight
limit, check the instructions. Children
are ready for a booster seat when they
outgrow a forward-facing restraint.
This car seat converts to
a booster by removing the
harness and rerouting the
safety belt.
Using Combination Restraints
11
■
Harness strap slots should be at or
above the child’s shoulders on forwardfacing only seats.
■
The harness must fit snugly —
you should not be able to pinch any
webbing at the child's shoulders and
between the legs. A snug harness
is important, it holds the child down
in the safety seat during a crash.
The harness is tight when no excess
fabric can be pinched. Check harness
tightness on every ride.
■
Be sure the harness straps are
threaded correctly through the shell
and not just the pad. Check the safety
seat instructions.
■
The plastic harness retainer clip keeps
the straps on the child’s shoulders.
Make sure the clip is threaded correctly
to keep the strap from sliding off.
Put the clip at mid-chest, armpit level
(see photo, page 6).
Integrated restraints are forward-facing
only; some convert to a belt-positioning
booster, others have a 5-point harness
that can be used up to 60 lbs. (Check
the vehicle manual.)
Integrated seats provide good protection
because they are anchored directly to
the vehicle. However, they cannot be
moved from one vehicle to another.
Integrated (Built-in) Restraints
Integrated (Built-in) Restraints
12
Booster Seats — the Law in Minnesota
Booster Seats — the Law in Minnesota
Booster seats are for kids who have
outgrown a forward-facing harnessed
restraint, usually after turning age 4.
Booster seats help adult safety belts fit
correctly on a child's body. Booster’s
keep the lap belt low on the hips and
the shoulder belt across the chest.
Minnesota law requires booster seat use.
A child cannot ride in a just a seat belt
until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall,
whichever comes first. It is recommended,
however, to keep a child in a booster
based on their size rather than age.
Types of Booster Seats
High-Back Boosters
■
Some have a clip or strap to hold the
shoulder belt in place.
■
High-backs provide head support for
taller children or for vehicles without
headrests.
■
Children who outgrow forward-facing
seats with harness straps before age 4
may not be mature enough to stay
seated properly in a belt-positioning
booster. A vest or harness that uses
the belt system and a tether strap
would be an option in this situation.
■
A high-back booster with a harness
can be converted to a booster by
removing the harness system and
rerouting the safety belt.
High-back Booster
3-in-1 restraint
No-Back Boosters
■
No-back boosters can be used if the
vehicle seat has a head restraint that
the child can utilize.
No-back Booster
13
■
■
Make sure the booster you use is
approved for use in a motor vehicle,
and check the labels and instructions.
Boosters are specially designed and
crash-tested. Do not use boosters
designed for dining table use, or
pillows or books because they can
cause serious injury in a crash.
Most children under 4 feet 9 inches
are not big enough to fit the adult
safety belt properly. A belt that rides
up on the tummy can cause serious
injury. A belt that is put under the arm
or behind the back can also cause
serious injury.
■
Boosters are comfortable for children
because the raised base gives the child
a better view and allows their legs to
bend normally. This also reduces
slouching, which leads to poor lap
belt fit.
■
If the child’s ears come above the top
of the vehicle seat back, use a highback booster. A lap and shoulder belt
must be used.
■
A child is ready to ride in just a seat
belt when they can sit comfortably
without slouching on the vehicle seat.
Seat belt use without a booster seat
can be determined by doing the sixstep test located on page 16.
■
Use only with a lap/shoulder belt;
cannot be used with the lap belt alone.
The lap belt should stay low on the
hips and the shoulder belt should
comfortably cross the chest and
shoulder.
■
If the booster seat comes with a clip
or strap to hold the shoulder belt in
place, make sure to thread it correctly.
■
If only lap belts are available in
your vehicle, adding a manufacturerprovided shoulder belt (retrofit) or
using a vest or harness that uses
the lap belt system and a tether
strap would be better in this situation.
Contact the vehicle manufacturer
regarding installation of a tether
anchor. A higher weight limit harnessed
restraint is also an option. Some go
as high as 65 pounds with a harness.
■
Secure booster seat with seat belt
when child is not riding in booster seat.
Booster Seats — the Law in Minnesota
Using Booster Seats
Warning on Seat Belt Fit Products
Products or devices sold in catalogs and stores that say they will improve seat belt
fit for older children and adults are not required to pass any government safety standards. Using these “after-market” products could be dangerous. Some have been
shown to reduce the effectiveness of lap/shoulder belts in crash tests. These products
might make the shoulder belt fit more comfortably but may allow too much slack
in the shoulder belt. These products may also cause the lap belt to ride up on the
tummy, which can cause serious internal injury. Approved booster seats are the
better — and legally required — way to make a safety belt fit a small child.
14
Specialty Restraints
Specialty Restraints
Children with special health care needs
should have access to proper resources
for safe transportation. Standard child
restraints may be used if compatible with
the child’s needs. If a standard restraint
is not workable, several options are available. It is possible that insurance will
cover the costs of specialty restraints.
Contact your insurance carrier for
specific information. For a listing of
special needs products contact:
American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Blvd.
P. O. Box 927
Elk Grove Village, IL 60009-0927
www.aap.org
Hippo car seat for hip spica cast
Riley Hospital
www.preventinjury.org
Types of Speciality Restraints
■
Vests and harnesses for children and
adults are designed for use with the
vehicle belt system and a tether strap.
Tethers provide additional upper body
protection.
■
Several restraints have been designed
for children with special health or
physical needs and have upper weight
limits of 100 or more pounds.
■
Many of these devices require additional hardware.
■
15
Car beds for low birth weight and/or
medically fragile infants are available
for infants who must lie flat. Ask
your baby’s doctor about testing for
breathing problems before discharge.
Angel Ride car bed
A child is ready for a seat belt when they
can sit comfortably without slouching.
Minnesota law requires drivers and all
passengers to be buckled up or in the
correct child restraint. Law enforcement
will stop and ticket unbelted drivers
and passengers.
Seat Belts
Seat Belts
Six Steps to Seat Belt Safety
1:
2:
3:
4:
5:
6:
Does your child sit with their back against the vehicle seat back?
Does your child’s knee bend comfortably around the vehicle seat edge?
Do your child’s feet touch the floor?
Does the belt rest on the shoulder (not on the face or upper arm)?
Does the lap portion of the belt stay low on the hips?
Can your child ride comfortably in this position for the whole trip?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat with the lap/
shoulder safety belt.
Using Seat Belts
■ Children who have outgrown safety
seats are better protected by lap/
shoulder belts. If several children are
riding in the back, and there are
shoulder belts, let the older ones use
the shoulder belts. Put the child riding
in the harnessed safety seat in the
middle where there is only a lap belt.
■ If the shoulder belt stays loose when
it is pulled out, teach your child how
to take up the slack by pulling on the
shoulder belt to reset it. Too much
slack can cause injuries in a crash.
■ If the shoulder belt fits so badly that it
goes across the neck or face, have the
child use a belt-positioning booster.
■ Never use pillows or books to raise a
the belt in the right place in a crash
and could cause serious injury.
■ Never put a shoulder belt under the
arm or behind the back. This could
cause serious injury in a crash. The
lap belt of a lap and shoulder belt is
not designed to work alone.
■ If no shoulder belt is available, keep
the lap belt low and snug across the
hips or thighs. If the lap belt rides up
onto the tummy, it could cause serious
injury in a crash. Also, check with the
vehicle manufacturer for a seat belt
retrofit. However, it is safer for anyone
(except small babies who cannot sit up)
to use just a lap belt than to ride
completely unrestrained.
child to fit the belt. These will not keep
16
Using LATCH to Secure Chid Seats (Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children)
Using LATCH to Secure Chid Seats
(Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children)
LATCH provides an alternative option for
child seat installation to bypass the safety
belt system. All vehicles since 2002 have
the LATCH system that uses child restraint
lower anchors and top tether anchors.
At least two rear-seating positions in
each vehicle are equipped with the
system. In addition, a third rear-seating
position has an upper tether anchorage
to hold the child seat tightly. The child
restraint anchorage system are standardized and independent of the vehicle
seat belts.
Tether anchor logo
The anchor system consists of three points of attachment:
■
Two small bars (lower anchors) in or
near the set bight (where the vehicle
seat cushion meets the vehicle back)
to which two special hooks on the
lower frame of the child restraint are
attached. The hooks may be on straps
(flexible) or part of the child restraint
frame (rigid).
■
One tether anchor behind the seating
position to which a tether strap from
the top of the child restraint is hooked.
This will appear as a ring-like object,
permanently attached to the vehicle
at the top of the rear seat.
■
Flexible LATCH hook using anchor bar
Belt positioning booster seats, vests,
and car beds are exempt from LATCH
requirements.
Lower anchor bars
17
■
Most LATCH-equipped vehicles have
anchors in the right- and left- rear
seat positions. If the center seat does
not have anchors, you can still install
a child safety seat using a safety belt.
■
If your vehicle is not LATCH-equipped,
use the safety belt and, if available,
a top tether.
■
■
LATCH anchor bars are required to be
a specific distance apart, which may
lead to a rear-center seating position
in the vehicle that does not have
LATCH anchors. You may not use
the two inboard lower anchors (of
the outboard LATCH seating positions)
to install a child seat in the rear-center
seating position. The only exception
is if both the vehicle and child seat
manufacturers specifically state that
this installation is acceptable. It is safe
and acceptable to install a car seat
using the standard safety belt in the
rear-center seating position.
Safety belts and LATCH may not be
used together to restrain a car seat.
Choose one or the other. Refer to your
vehicle and child restraint manuals.
LATCH Installation
■
Always read and follow both the
vehicle owner’s manual and child
safety seat manufacturer’s instructions
for correct installation and proper use.
■
Locate the lower LATCH attachments
on the child safety seat.
■
Locate the lower LATCH anchor bars
in or near vehicle seat crack.
■
Hook the LATCH attachments to the
vehicle anchor bars.
■
Use your body weight in the child
safety seat by kneeling in the seat,
then pull excess webbing to tighten
flexible LATCH attachments.
■
Check for secure fit by testing for
tightness at the base of the seat,
near the LATCH attachments. The
child safety seat should not move
more than one inch side-to-side
or forward.
■
Attach the tether to a tether anchor
(if applicable). Pull excess webbing
and tighten tether strap.
Using LATCH to Secure Chid Seats (Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children)
LATCH Facts
18
Using Tethers and Top Anchors to Secure Child Seats
Using Tethers and Top Anchors
to Secure Child Seats
A tether is a strap attachment system
that connects the top of a safety seat to
an anchor in the vehicle’s metal structure.
Tethers are used in addition to the vehicle
safety belt or the lower anchorage. Check
the vehicle owner’s manual for installation
instructions.
Using Tethers and Top Anchors
■
When tethering the safety seat to the
vehicle, be certain to use the tether
anchor point, not a cargo tie-down
anchor. Consult the vehicle owner’s
manual to verify correct tether anchor
point locations.
■
Installation of tether anchor kits
can be done by the owner, vehicle
manufacturer or local mechanic.
Newer vehicles may have factoryinstalled tether anchor brackets
and will not need kits.
■
19
Designated anchor points take many
forms. Consult the vehicle manual in
the child restraint section under “top
strap” or “tether strap.” Tether anchor
locations can also be found in safety
equipment diagrams through the
local dealership parts department.
An anchor option for tether hook
How to Install a Child Seat with a Seat Belt
■
Put the seat belt through the correct
belt path (where the belt goes through
the seat) and buckle the belt. Belt
paths are different depending on
whether the seat is rear- or forwardfacing and whether an infant-only
seat base is being used. Check labels
and read the safety seat instructions.
■
Push down on the safety seat while
you tighten the belt.
■
To check if it is tight enough, grasp
the seat on both sides at the belt
path. Pull the safety seat forward
and pull it from side-to-side. It is safe
for the rear-facing safety seat to tip
slightly toward the back of the vehicle
seat. If the belt loosens or the safety
seat slides more than an inch, be sure
you have locked the seat belt. It is
critical to have the car seat installed
tightly. Seats that move more than
an inch side-to-side are too lose.
Reinstall the seat or move the seat to
a different seating position. You may
need to try a different safety seat.
Using Seat Belts to Install Child Seats
Using Seat Belts to Install Child Seats
Using Non-Traditional Seat Belts
Belts that do not lock (ELR), belts that come out forward of the seat back, belts in
the door, and belts on a track require special attention. Some may need a special
part from the dealer, others may require a tether strap (see page 19). Check the
vehicle owner’s manual and safety seat instructions.
20
Using Seat Belts to Install Child Seats
Using Seat Belts to Install Child Seats
Using Non-Traditional Seat Belts
There are several types of seat belt systems that need to be considered when using
a belt to install a child restraint. Some may not stay tight and will need special hardware.
Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR)
Will lock only in a crash or sudden stop.
It cannot hold a child safety seat on its
own. Check the label on the belt or
the vehicle owner’s manual for further
instructions. See page 22 for information
about locking clips.
Automatic Locking Retractor (ALR)
Will lock whenever you stop pulling it out.
It can hold a safety seat tightly; take the
slack out by pushing the webbing back
into the retractor.
■
Lap belt with a locking latch plate —
Usually found in the center rear seat.
A locking bar keeps the lap belt from
loosening.
■
If the latch plate rests on the safety
seat at the wrong spot, the seat belt
may still loosen. Do not use a locking
clip to fix this problem. To keep the
belt from loosening in this situation:
– Buckle and tighten the belt
Switchable
Works well with safety seats. It is an
emergency locking retractor that switches
to an automatic locking retractor when
belt is completely pulled out and allowed
to retract back in. Check the label on the
belt or the vehicle owner’s manual on
how to use this type.
– Unbuckle the belt and turn the latch
plate over once so that the locking
bar faces up and then rebuckle it
– Check the vehicle owner’s manual
to be sure this is correct.
21
Why Use a Locking Clip
Using Seat Belts to Install Child Seats
Using Seat Belts to Install Child Seats
Lap and shoulder belt with a free-sliding latch plate has one piece of belt webbing
that slides through the latch plate. If the free-sliding latch plate is on an ELR belt,
a locking clip is needed. See page 21 for more on ELR belts.
How to Use a Locking Clip
■
Check the vehicle owner’s manual and
the safety seat instructions for how to
use the metal locking clip. Always use
the locking clip next to the latch plate.
■
Do not use on a lap only belt.
22
Special Considerations for Pick-Up Trucks and RV’s
Special Considerations for
Pickup Trucks and RV’s
Pickup Trucks
■
Pickup trucks with passenger air bags
and no ‘shut-off’ switch and no back
seat cannot safely transport babies
under 1 year of age and under 20
pounds. Babies this age must ride
rear-facing and always in the back
seat; the front may only be used
if there is no danger from an airbag.
■
If there is an air bag ‘shut-off’ switch,
read the pickup truck owner’s manual
for instructions.
■
Extended cab pickups with side-facing
jump seats are not appropriate to
transport children, or adults for that
matter. Seat belts do not provide good
protection in these seats. Safety seats
cannot be installed in these seats.
■
Extended cab pickups with rear bench
seats may be appropriate. Make sure
at least 80 percent of the base of the
safety seat fits on the vehicle seat.
Make sure the rear-facing seat will
fit when reclined according to manufacture instructions.
■
Even when a forward-facing safety
seat is installed tightly with the seat
belt, a child’s head could hit the
front seat in a crash. A tether strap is
recommended (see page 19). Check
the safety seat instructions and vehicle
owner’s manual.
■
Never allow anyone to ride in the cargo
bed of a pickup truck. Ejection can
cause serious injury or death and a
canopy does not guarantee safety.
In fact, covered cargo beds can trap
poisonous carbon monoxide fumes,
which can be deadly.
Motor Homes and RV’s
■
A rear bench seat of a pickup truck.
23
Motor homes and RV's are considered
passenger vehicles under Minnesota
law, and as such adult seat belt
and child seat requirements apply
where seating positions with belts
are available.
Proper use of an approved child restraint system (CRS) on an aircraft enhances child
safety in the event of turbulence or a crash. In addition to protecting your child during
flight, there is also the added benefit of having a child seat on hand when traveling
by motor vehicle away from home. An added note of precaution: research the child
restraint laws for the state or country in which you will be traveling. Laws may vary.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly recommends that all children who
fly, regardless of age, use the appropriate restraint based on their size and weight.
Before you fly:
■
Ensure that your CRS has received
FAA approval. Check for a label reading,
“This restraint is certified for use in
motor vehicles and aircraft.”
■
Check the width of your CRS. While
airline seats vary in width, a CRS no
wider than 16 inches should fit in most
coach seats. Even if the armrests are
moved out of the way, a CRS wider than
16 inches is unlikely to fit properly into
the frame of the aircraft seat.
■
■
■
Ask the airline if they offer a discounted
fare for a child traveling in a CRS.
Purchasing an airline ticket (discounted
or full fare) for your child is the only way
to guarantee that you will be able to use
a CRS.
Check with the airline to determine their
busiest days and times. By avoiding
these times, you are more likely to be on
a flight with an empty seat next to you.
In many cases, airlines will allow you
to seat your child under 2 years of age
in your CRS in the empty airplane seat
without having to pay the airline fare for
the child. Be sure to ask your airline for
its policy regarding an empty seat.
Arrive early for departure and request
ample pre-boarding time to install the
CRS properly.
■
If you purchase a ticket for your child,
reserve adjoining seats. A CRS must
be placed in a window seat so it will
not block the escape path in an
emergency. A CRS may not be placed
in an exit row.
■
If you need to change planes to make
a connecting flight, it can be very
challenging to transport a CRS, child
and luggage through a busy airport.
Most airlines will help parents make
the connection if they can arrange for
assistance in advance.
■
Children under 20 pounds and under
1 year of age should be placed in a
rear-facing CRS.
■
Children 20 to 40 pounds and over
1 year of age use a forward-facing
restraint. Current restraints offer
dramatic improvement in protection
compared to lap-held or unrestrained
children.
■
Booster seats and harness vests are
banned for use on aircraft. These
devices may be checked as baggage.
■
In the United States, supplemental
lap restraints are banned from use
in aircraft.
Tips for Safe Air Travel and Child Safety Seats
Tips for Safe Air Travel and
Child Safety Seats
24
Be Sure Your Child Rides Safely Every Time
25
Be Sure Your Child Rides Safely
Every Time
■
Minnesota law requires drivers and
all passengers to be buckled up or in
the correct child restraint. Law enforcement will stop and ticket motorists
for belt violations, including unbelted
passengers.
■
Children ages 4 to 8, under 4 feet 9
inches tall, 40–80 pounds, should
always ride in a booster seat.
■
The back seat usually is safer than the
front, because head-on crashes are the
most common type of crash. Children
under age 13 should ride in back.
■
If the vehicle has a front passenger
air bag, Never put a rear-facing baby
in the front seat.
■
Babies under 1 year old and under
20 pounds must ride facing the rear,
even when they are out of the driver’s
view in the back seat.
■
Always use a safety seat that is the
right size for your child. The best child
safety seat for your child is the one
that fits your child, fits your vehicle
and you can use correctly every time.
■
Read and follow the instructions in the
safety seat manufacturer’s directions
and the vehicle owner’s manual.
■
Always make sure the safety seat is
held tightly by the vehicle safety belt,
or LATCH system. Child seats should
not move more than one inch sideto-side.
■
Always make sure the safety seat
harness is snug on the child and
buckled into the crotch strap.
■
There must be one seat belt for each
person. Two people with one belt
around them could hurt each other.
■
Never hold a child on your lap because
you could crush the child in a crash
even if the seat belt is around both
of you. If only you are using a safety
belt, the child would be torn from your
arms in a crash.
■
The cargo area of a station wagon,
hatchback, van or pick-up is a very
dangerous place for anyone to ride.
■
On long trips, plan to stop in a safe
place to let everyone out so they can
stretch. Never unbuckle when the
car is moving or stopped on the road.
■
Bring small soft toys, books and snacks
to keep children happy in the vehicle.
■
Never hang toys from the safety seat
handle or secure them to a shield.
The handle should be positioned
according to manufacture instructions.
Toy accessories that attach to the back
of the seat for baby’s amusement are
not recommended.
■
Never put anything in the back window
of your vehicle. Secure items in the
cargo area of a station wagon or
hatchback. Loose objects, such as
large toys, or other heavy things in
the vehicle can be thrown around
in a crash and hurt someone. Secure
all loose objects in the cargo area.
■
Turning a child from a rear-facing
restraint to a forward-facing restraint
too soon.
■
Restraint is not secured tight
enough — it should not shift more
than one inch side-to-side or out
from the seat.
■
Harness on the child is not tight
enough — if you can pinch harness
material, it’s too loose.
■
Retainer clip is up too high or too
low — should be at the child’s
armpit level.
■
The child is in the wrong restraint —
don’t rush your child into a seat belt.
Most Common Child Passenger Safety Mistakes
Most Common Child Passenger
Safety Mistakes
26
Final Reminders
27
BuckleUpKids.mn.gov
The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety Child Passenger Safety Program Web site
has valuable information designed to address many questions. Visit
BuckleUpKids.mn.gov for:
■
Car seat inspection clinics.
■
Car seat distribution programs.
■
Car seat recall list.
■
Minnesota car seat law.
■
Resource materials.
■
Related links.
■
Training information.
Notes:
Learn more about child passenger safety at:
BuckleUpKids.mn.gov
www.carseatsmadesimple.org
Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Office of Traffic Safety
444 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
ots.dps.mn.gov
Pl 6515 12/11
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