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1. What is the safest way to transport my child in a vehicle seat?
Please visit: http://www.nhtsa.gov/DOT/NHTSA/Traffic%20Injury%20Control/Articles/Associated%20Files/4StepsFlyer.pdf to learn more.
2. Why should I be concerned about using second hand seats?
There are several issues surrounding used child safety seats, so in general they are not recommended. Here are a few of the concerns:
3. Why do child safety seats need to be replaced after a crash?
Crash forces can weaken or damage child safety seats, safety belts, and other protective devices, making them less effective. This type of damage can even occur in minor crashes, even if it is not visible to the naked eye, and it can make the protection systems less effective. For this reason, manufacturers state that child safety seats and safety belts involved in crashes must be replaced. If a restraint system has protected a passenger in a crash, it has already done its job. Many parents and caregivers are reluctant to replace safety devices after relatively minor crashes. At a minimum, we suggest contacting the manufacturer for advice. The manufacturer knows the product’s capabilities and limitations, and may even be able to assist parents and caregivers with encouraging insurers to pay for replacement.
4. Which child safety seat is the safest?
There is not yet a credible rating system for child safety seats in place. Since all current child safety seats must meet the same standards, you may want to visit a store with a wide variety of child safety seats and ask the manager if he/she will let you install the store's display models in your car. Most stores are fairly receptive to the idea of bringing one model at a time to your vehicle. Ask these three questions about each model you consider:
Does it fit your child? Check the manufacturer's instructions to ensure that your child is within the allowable weight and height ranges for a specific safety seat, and that he/she also meets the recommended age/development characteristics. Some general guidelines are that:
Does it fit your vehicle(s)? Not all child safety seats can be correctly installed in all seating positions of all vehicles. Be sure to read both the child safety seat and vehicle instructions. In general, a correctly installed child safety seat should not move more than 1 inch side to side or forward, when pulled at the safety belt path.
Will you use it consistently and correctly? Different child safety seats vary in design and features. It is important to choose one that you and your child are comfortable with, and that you will correctly install and adjust for every ride.
You may also want to speak with a child passenger safety technician in your area. Find one by contacting your local Safe Kids coalition. A tool to help you locate your nearest Safe Kids coalition can be found at http://www.usa.safekids.org/. If there is no coalition near you, contact the state coalition listed.
5. How will I know when my child has outgrown his forward-facing child safety seat?
Trained child passenger safety advocates look for three characteristics when determining whether a child has outgrown a forward-facing child safety seat.
Most child safety seats also have a maximum height limit; it should be noted in the seat instructions. It is given as overall height, but sitting height is even more important. Consult and follow the manufacturer's instructions for your specific model.
If your child has exceeded any of these weight or height characteristics, a new child safety seat is in order. Depending on your child’s age and size, you could:
In general it is recommended using harnesses as long as possible before “graduating” to belt-positioning booster seats. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing and using whatever safety seat you choose.
6. All of the boosters I've found require shoulder belts, but my car only has lap belts in the back seat. What can I do?
Depending on your child's height and weight, you have a few options:
7. How do I know when my child is ready to graduate from a booster seat to a safety belt alone?
8. My child has special needs. Which is the best child safety seat for him?
The best child safety seat for your child depends on his/her specific physical needs. In some cases, a conventional seat would work. In others, a seat that offers more support and adjustability may be necessary. You may also benefit from consulting a specialist in transporting children with special health care needs.
9. I have more kids than I have room in the back seat. What should I do?
Currently, the accepted recommendation is that children ages 12 and under (also worded as “under 13”) should ride in the back seat. In cases where it is absolutely impossible for all children ages 12 and under to ride in the back seat, tough decisions need to be made. In general, the child who can be kept furthest from an air bag is the best choice for front seat placement. You should consult your vehicle manufacturer for advice on disabling air bags if a child under 13 will ride in an air bag-equipped position. Rear-facing infants can NEVER be placed in seating positions with active frontal air bags.
Please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's web site at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ for a list of facilities that can deactivate air bags.
10. Is my child safer in the seat behind the driver or behind the front-seat passenger?
As long as a child can be correctly restrained in the rear center position, it is generally recommended. That position is insulated from all crash angles, so it is usually thought of as safest.
The right and left rear seats are relatively similar based on fatal crash statistics. When selecting between them, some considerations might include the height of the driver, curbside parking, the availability of a door, access to other seating positions, the safety of all other passengers, whether the child needs to be monitored, driver distractions, etc. The final decision must be made by parents and caregivers.
11. How can I be sure my child's safety seat is installed correctly?
Start with the Child Safety Seat Guide to be sure you’re using the correct seat for your child’s age and weight. At the very top of http://www.usa.safekids.org/ in the red banner, you will see "Child Safety Seat Guide." Click on this and choose the age and weight of your child. Click on "Go." A detailed list of tips will follow. Next, read both the seat manufacturer's instructions and your vehicle owner’s manual carefully. These will get you started on installing your seat correctly.
Then, check for a snug fit. In general, a correctly installed child safety seat should not move more than 1 inch side to side or forward, when pulled at the safety belt path.
12. My 3-year-old will not stay in his/her child safety seat. What can I do?
There are a couple of variables that can affect whether a child stays in his or her child safety seat. A parent or caregiver must ensure:
Beyond that, it is a behavioral issue. One method that has been used by many is consistently stating that the car will not move unless everyone is buckled up. If the child "escapes" during travel, the driver can pull over to a SAFE PLACE and remain there until the child agrees to sit in his or her safety seat. It may require extra travel time at first, but once the child realizes it is remaining in the child safety seat is not negotiable, the problem should subside.