Car Seat Safety Checks

Car Seat Safety Tips

Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent. The best way to keep your child safe in the car is to use the right car seat in the right way. Here are some car seat safety tips to protect your most precious cargo. Please fill out the form below to schedule a car seat safety inspection at the Mustang Fire Department. 

Hard Facts about Safety in Cars

  • Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States.

  • Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.

  • More than half of car seats are not used or installed correctly. 

Top Tips about Car Seat Safety

Buying the right car seat. Your baby needs to ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible until 2 or more years. When your child has outgrown that seat, you are ready for a forward-facing car seat. 

  • Rear-facing car seat. This is your baby’s first car seat, often used from 5 to 40 pounds. 


  • Forward-facing car seat. After age two and when a child outgrows a rear-facing car seat by weight or height, move them to a forward-facing car seat with a harness and use the top tether. 

  • Booster seat. Once your child has outgrown the forward-facing seat with a harness, move them to a booster seat. It raises the child so the car’s adult lap and shoulder seat belt fits over your child correctly. 

Installing your car seat. You’ll need to decide on using either the seat belt or lower anchors to secure your car seat. Both are safe but don’t use them both at the same time. Once your child is forward-facing, it is important to use the tether with the seat belt or lower anchors. 

  • Getting the right fit. A properly fitted harness gives the best possible protection for your child.

  • How it works. A properly fitted 5-point harness gives the best possible protection for your child. A 5-point harness has straps that go over both shoulders and both hips and then buckles at the crotch.

  • Check the label. It will tell you the weight and height range of the harness. Check regularly to make sure your child hasn’t outgrown it. 

  • The harness changes over time. Once your child outgrows the 5-point harness, the adult seat belt is used with the belt-positioning booster seat. Learn about the right fit for babies, little kids, and big kids.

  • Use the Correct Harness Slots

  • Rear-facing seats. The shoulder straps should come through the car seat at or below your child’s shoulders.

  • Forward-facing seats. The shoulder straps should be at or above your child’s shoulders.

  • Use the Correct Harness and Belt Placement

  • Car seat. Use a 5-point harness for your child for as long as your child meets the weight or height limits of the car seat. A 5-point harness provides more protection than a seat belt used with a booster seat or a seat belt alone. 

  • Belt-Positioning Booster seat: After your child has outgrown the car seat harness, move to a booster seat. Use the car’s lap and shoulder seat belt with a booster seat. 

  • Get a Snug Fit

  • Winter coat in the car. Wearing bulky clothes or winter coats can prevent a snug fit of the harness. You might think your child is securely snug in the seat when in fact the harness is not tight because there is so much air in the jacket. Adjust the harness while your child’s coat is off, then put the coat back on and rebuckle. The harness may be tight, but it will fit properly.

  • When to change your car seat. Look on the car seat label to make sure your child is still within the weight, height and age limits for that seat. Get details about when to change your car seat.

  • Do the Pinch Test. Make sure your harness is snug enough by doing the Pinch Test. After you buckle and tighten the harness, pinch the harness at the shoulder. If the harness is snug, your fingers will slide off the webbing. If the harness is loose, you will be able to pinch the webbing between your fingers. A loose harness is a common mistake and is not safe. 

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