Child Safety: One Minute Safety Seat Checklist
Using a safety seat correctly makes a big difference. A child safety seat may not protect your child in a crash if it isn't used correctly and installed properly in your vehicle. Take a minute to Check To Be Sure...
Do You Have and Understand the Instructions?
Does Your Child Ride in the Correct Safety Seat?
Children over one year and at least 20 pounds may ride in a forward facing child safety seat in the back seat. Children should ride in a safety seat with full harness until they weigh about 40 pounds.
The Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) System is designed to make installation of child safety seats easier by requiring child safety seats to be installed without using the vehicle's seat belt system. As of September, 1999, all new forward facing child safety seats (not including booster seats) have to meet stricter head protection requirements, which calls for a top tether strap. This adjustable strap is attached to the back of a child safety seat. It has a hook for securing the seat to a tether anchor found either on the rear shelf area of the vehicle or, in the case of mini-vans and station wagons, on the rear floor or the on the back of the rear seat of the vehicle. As of September, 2000, all new cars, minivans, and light trucks will have this tether anchor.
By September 1, 2002, two rear seating positions of all cars, minivans and light trucks will come equipped with lower child safety seat anchorage points located between a vehicle's seat cushion and seat back. Also by September 1, 2002, all child safety seats will have two attachments which will connect to the vehicle's lower anchorage attachment points.
Together, the lower anchors and upper tethers make up the LATCH system.
All children who have outgrown child safety seats should be properly restrained in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4'9" tall.
If only a lap belt is available in the rear seating positions, an option may be to contact the vehicle dealer to see if retrofit shoulder belts can be installed. Another option may be to install products which can be used with a lap belt only such as a specialty-made harness or vest. Contact the Auto Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236 for additional information.
For more about Children's Health, please visit the Healthy Kids Center.
Last Editorial Review: 4/21/2003