Child Safety Seats

When driving, a driver needs to focus on the road, other vehicles, and traffic signals. If a driver has children there is also the safety of the child to take in to account. A properly installed car seat, with the child securely buckled in, leaves the driver free to keep their eyes and mind on the road.

The basics

Child car seats can be complex. Which one does one get? Where does one install it? How does one install it? Let us demystify this complex problem.

First, always purchase a car seat that has been certified as safe by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA). These two groups test car seats to make sure these products are safe for child. They will not certify a seat that does not meet their safety criteria.

Second, make sure that the seat purchased fits both the child and the vehicle in which it will be installed. Infants should always have a rear-facing car seat, and it should never be installed in the front seat of a vehicle.

Third, make sure that the car seat is installed correctly. Each car seat comes with an instruction manual detailing the proper installation procedures. If there is confusion or uncertainty, one can check with the local police station or fire department to see if they provide assistance with the proper installation of the car seat. It’s best to call in advance, because not every police or fire station has a certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician.

Finally, know the local laws in regard to child seats. They vary from state to state and noncompliance can often carry a hefty fine. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides an easy-to-use website detailing the laws for each state.

Normal wear

Car seats come with an expiration date. This is usually 6 years from the date of manufacture, but it can vary by manufacturer. Check with the manufacturer of your car seat to find out the expiration date.

Used car seats may compromise the safety of your child. It is not recommended to purchase a used car seat unless the complete history of the seat is known. Car seats that have previously been in accidents may not protect children as well as a newly manufactured car seat.

Care and maintenance

Car seats can be cleaned with nonabrasive cleansers that are child safe.

If a car seat is damaged in any way, it should be replaced immediately to provide the highest level of protection for the child who relies on it.

Stay aware of any recalls on a car seat model. For recalls and other information, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission site or Safe Kids US.

Advances in technology and knowledge produce safer car seats. It is a good idea to upgrade car seats on a routine basis to take advantage of the increased safety.