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Child Safety Seat Check-up

Take a minute to complete this check list to ensure your child's safety seat meets the following safety standards.

This information highlights examples of safety precautions you can consider to protect yourself, your family, and your property. This list is not meant to be all-encompassing. Moreover, a particular precaution may not be effective or appropriate in all circumstances. We encourage you to use your own good judgement about what's appropriate.

Do you have the car seat's instructions?

 Follow them and keep them with the car seat. You will need them as your child grows.
 Send in the registration card that comes with the car seat. It will be important in the event your car seat is recalled.
 If you do not have them, write to the company's consumer relations department, identifying the model number, name of seat, and date of manufacture. The manufacturer's address should be on the car seat's label.

Does your car have a passenger-side air bag?

 An infant in a rear-facing seat should never be placed in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger-side air bag.
 Whenever possible, children should ride in the rear seat.
 If toddlers must ride in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger-side air bag, that passenger seat must be placed as far back as possible.

Is your child facing the right way for his or her weight and age?

 If you use a seat made only for infants, always face it backward.
 Infants should ride facing the back of the car until they are 20 pounds and as close as possible to age one.
 A child over 20 pounds and one year of age should face forward.

Is the harness snug? Does it stay on your child's shoulders?

 The shoulder straps of the car seat go in the lowest slots for infants riding backward. Use the highest slots for children facing forward.
 The retainer clip should be placed at armpit-level to keep harness straps on the shoulders.

Is the automobile's seat belt in the right place and pulled tight?

 The belt must go in the correct path to hold the seat in place.
 Check the owner's manual for your car to see if you need to use a locking clip or some additional piece of equipment to keep the safety seat secure.
 A convertible seat faces backward for an infant and forward for a toddler. It has two different belt paths, one for each direction.

Have you tried the car seat in your vehicle?

 Not all car seats fit all vehicles.
 When the car seat is installed, be sure it does not move side-to-side or toward the front of the car.
 Be sure to read the section on car seats in the owner's manual for your car.

Has your child grown too tall for the convertible seat? Is your child 40 pounds or more?

 Use a booster seat. A booster seat helps protect your child until he or she is big enough to use a seat belt alone.
 Use a booster with a shield if your car only has lap belts.

Has your child's car seat been recalled?

 You can determine if your child's car seat has ever been recalled by calling the Auto Safety Hotline at the U.S. Department of Transportation, 1-800-424-9393.

Was your child's car seat made before January 1981?

 If the label on the car seat indicates it was manufactured before January 1, 1981, the seat may not meet strict safety standards, and its parts may be too old to be safe.

Was the car seat ever in a crash?

 If so, it may have been weakened and should not be used, even if it looks all right.

Does the car seat have any visible cracks in the frame of the seat?

 If the seat has visible cracks, the car seat should not be used.

Related links:
  Child Safety Seats
  Passenger Safety
  In Case of an Accident
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