Car Seat Safety
 
 

Car Seat Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 in the U.S. Our goal is to ensure that all children are appropriately restrained in vehicles. Remember: Car seats must be used correctly to be effective. Be sure to read and follow both the vehicle owner's manual and the car seat instructions.

Watch a short Insurance Institute for Highway Safety video about keeping children safe in crashes.

Installing Car Seats Correctly

For more information, or to have your car seat inspected for proper installation, please call (813) 870-4747 to register for one of the following:

  • Our Safe Baby Express class
  • A car seat inspection (individual appointment)
  • Our Car Seat Check Up event (limited availability)

See our full list of community classes and community events. You can also shop for affordable car seats at our Safety Store.

Tips for Rear-Facing Car Seats

  • All infants should ride rear-facing in either an infant-only car seat or a convertible car seat.
  • If you use an infant-only car seat, switch the infant to a rear-facing convertible car seat once you reach the maximum height or weight limits for the infant-only seat.
  • Many infant-only seats have maximum limits ranging from 20-32 pounds and 26-32 inches and should only be used rear-facing. Check your labels carefully.
  • Rear-facing is best. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay rear-facing in a convertible seat at least until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height/weight limit (often 30-35 pounds and up to 36 inches).
  • Never put a rear-facing seat in front of an airbag.
  • The seat should be semi-reclined at a 30° to 45° angle.
  • Place the child’s harness straps through the slots at or below the shoulder level. Place the harness clip at child’s armpit level.
  • Tighten the harness straps so they are snug. You should not be able to pinch any slack in the harness.
  • The car seat should be locked into place allowing less than 1 inch of seat belt movement. Make sure the correct belt is used.

Tips for Forward-Facing Car Seats

  • Children who have outgrown their rear-facing seat may ride forward-facing in an appropriate car seat.
  • Place the harness straps at or above the shoulders. Place the harness clip at armpit level.
  • Tighten the harness straps so they are snug. You should not be able to pinch any slack in the harness.
  • The car seat should be locked into place allowing less than 1 inch of seat belt movement. Make sure the correct belt is used.
  • Tethers are recommended for forward facing seats. (If the seat is installed with the lower anchors you must use the tether.)

Tips for Car Booster Seats

  • Booster seats are for children who are at least 4 and weigh 40 pounds or more. Both high-back and backless booster seats are available (maximum allowable weight typically 80 or 100 pounds).
  • Always use boosters with a lap and shoulder seat belt. Never use a lap-only seat belt with a booster.
  • Head support is very important. Make sure the child has head support from the booster or from the vehicle’s headrest.

Tips for Children and Seat Belts

  • Seat belts are appropriate for most children who are at least 4' 9" (generally 8 years and up).
  • Children under 13 should ride in the back seat.
  • Lap and shoulder seat belts provide the best protection. Don’t let children tuck the shoulder belt under an arm or behind their back.
  • Remember, everyone should buckle up for every ride.

Additional Car Seat Resources

St. Joseph’s Contact Information

For more information about car seats and other health and safety programs at St. Joseph’s Children’s Wellness and Safety Center, please call (813) 615-0589 or visit us at 1401A East Fowler Ave., Tampa, Florida 33612.