Are your car seats installed correctly?

 September 17th – 23rd is Child Passenger Safety Week

The third week of each September marks Child Passenger Safety Week and there’s no better time to check — or double-check — that your children’s car seats are installed and used correctly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 50 percent of car seats and booster seats are used incorrectly. It’s not hard to see why: Car seats are tricky! There’s no one-size-fits-all approach and much of car seat safety depends on the child’s age, height, and weight, as well as the make and model of your car. That’s why we recommend working with a Certified Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) to make sure that your car seats are optimized for maximum protection.

Rachel Skybetter, a CPST and Illinois-based mom of two, shares some tips:

  • Read your car seat manual and your car manual. You can find both online if you don’t have the hard copies.
  • If you have a forward-facing kiddo, make sure the tether on the back of the car seat is in use. Check your car seat and car manual to determine the appropriate way to route and hook it. Hint: Some tether anchors are hidden with fabric or way down at the very bottom of the back of the seat. Your car manual may tell you to remove the headrest, if possible. 
  • If forward-facing, harness straps should come from at or above the shoulders. If rear-facing, they should come from at or below the shoulders.
  • Make sure the chest clip is level with the armpits and there is no slack in the straps.
  • The belt path used should be the one closest to the back of the car’s seat. If installed appropriately, there should be no more than one inch of movement along the belt path (right where the belt or lower anchors are). 
  • Lower anchors have weight limits! The total weight is 65 pounds, but that includes the car seat, so you’ll want to switch to a belt install usually around 35-40 pounds – check your manual to be safe.
  • Seatbelt and lower anchors are equally safe. Just don’t use both at the same time; it does not make for a safer install. 
  • Refer to your car seat manual for proper cleaning instructions. Improper cleaning can void the car seat’s integrity. 
  • Think of booster seats as seat belt positioning devices: They only work well if the seat belt is placed correctly and your child does not wiggle around or mess with it. If they can’t handle sitting still, they’re probably not ready to ride without a harness.

To learn more or schedule a free appointment with a CPST near you,