Keep Child Passengers Safe with a Car Seat Checkup

September 21, 2021
Dad buckling baby in car seat.


One question BayCare Kids Child Passenger Safety Technicians hear most is, "Which car seat is the best?" The answer isn't a specific brand or model, but rather the one that fits the child, fits the vehicle and is used correctly every time.

Road injuries remain the leading cause of preventable death for children in the United States. Child safety seats, when correctly installed and used, are extremely effective in saving children’s lives, reducing the risk of death by as much as 71 percent. Unfortunately research shows that more than half of car seats are used incorrectly. 

“Engineers are working hard to ensure cars and car seats are designed to keep kids as safe as possible, but it’s up to parents to take full advantage of these innovations by making sure car seats are used and installed correctly,” said BayCare Kids Wellness and Safety Specialist Michelle Sterling.  

In addition to reading the vehicle and car seat instruction manuals, Sterling urges parents to take the time to do the following at-home annual checkup.   

“Children visit the doctor every year for an annual checkup, and we recommend that parents give their car seats an annual checkup, too,” Sterling notes. “A quick home checkup could save a life.”

Car Seat Checkup Checklist: 

  • Right Seat. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height. 

  • Right Place. Keep all children in the back seat until they are 13 years old. Doing this, along with correctly using the appropriate child restraints, greatly reduces the risk of injury.

  • Right Direction. From birth to ages 2-4, keep infants and toddlers in rear-facing car seats until they reach maximum weight and height limit. After outgrowing a rear-facing car seat, use a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5. After outgrowing a forward-facing car seat, use a booster seat until the seat belt fits properly.

  • Inch Test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.

  • Pinch Test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.

For information on upcoming car seat safety classes held at Children’s Board Family Resource Centers located throughout Hillsborough County or to schedule a car seat inspection, contact BayCare Kids Wellness and Safety Center at (813) 615-0589. 


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