Properly installing a child safety seat

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GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A recent child passenger safety seat inspection at Crossgates Mall showing an alarming amount of people do not know how to install a car seat properly. Of the 135 seats checked only one was installed properly! County officials also say that 21 car seats had to be replaced because they were either recalled, expired or had been damaged in a crash.

New York State requires children to be in a child safety seat or restraint system until their eighth birthday. Children under the age of four must ride in child safety seats and all children must ride in a child restraint system until their eighth birthday. They should not be used in the front seat of a vehicle, children 13 and under are always safer in the backseat.

Check the car seat packaging for specifications for your child, to make sure you are purchasing the correct seat. Read the owners manual of your car to ensure the seat is properly secured.

Types of child safety seats:

  • Infant seats are normally for infants that weigh 22 pounds or less and are 25 inches or less in length, they should never be placed in the front seat and should always be rear-facing.
  • Convertible child seats are normally for infants and toddlers that weigh approximately 40 pounds or less. For infants, they should always face toward the rear of the vehicle. Make sure to read the manual to adjust the seat as your child grows. For the best possible protection, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that a child continue to face the rear for as long as possible up to the weight and height limits specified by the seat manufacturer. For toddlers, you can change a convertible seat to face the front of the vehicle. All children in New York must be in a rear-facing seat until they are two years old starting November 1, 2019.
  • Booster seats are for children that have outgrown their convertible or toddler seats. Booster seats are for children who are 4 to eight 8 old, weigh 40 to 80 pounds, and are less than 4 feet, 9 inches in height. You should use a booster seat until an adult seat belt fits properly on your child. Always use the lap and shoulder belt when using a booster seat.
  • Some vehicles do have built-in child seats available. These seats fold away from a standard car seat and are not to be used with infants.

Always read the instructions and the information provided in the vehicle owner manual about the use of child safety seats or child restraint systems. Make sure you install and use the seat or system correctly at all times.

When putting a young child in the car, decide where is the best place to put the seat. Children 13 and under should always be in the back seat. Check to see if there are anchors to attach a latch in the vehicle and what seats are set up to use this method. Also, make sure that other passengers can ride safely in the vehicle.

When installing a car seat decide if you are going to use the seat belt system or the latch system. If using the seat belt system look at your child safety seat, there will be directions on what belt path to use. When using a front-facing car seat make sure to attach the top tether as well. You can also use the latch system, using special tethers on the bottom of the car seat you can attach them to the lower anchors on the vehicle.

Use the latch system for only children weighing under a certain weight. The car seat will display the weight limit. When your child is too big for the latch system switch to the belt system.

Always remember to use the inch test. This will make sure that the car seat is installed properly and not moving too much. A car seat should not move than an inch in any direction when pulled at the seat belt path. This applies to seats installed using the seat belt and the latch system.

Car seats have different angles they must be installed at depending on if the seat is rear or forward-facing. Some seats have adjustable recline positions. All seats will have some sort of angle indicator like a sticker with a line or a bubble with a specific range. Some seats have different levels to choose from depending on the age of the child.

Be sure to have your car parked on a level surface so you can tell if the level indicator is accurate.

There are several child passenger safety events throughout the area, but there are also certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians that can help make sure your child’s seat is installed safely. There is also a number of permanent child safety seat fitting stations in New York State.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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