A Few Tips for Car Seat Safety
by Elissa Casey OTR/L, ATP, CPST
There is a lot to know about car seats and all of it can seem very overwhelming. Time to take a deep breath, as we are here to help. My name is Elissa Casey and I am a pediatric occupational therapist and also a child passenger safety technician with an emphasis in special needs car seats. Road injuries are one of the leading causes of preventable injuries in children in the United States and correctly used car seats can assist with lowering that statistic. Most car seats are installed and used incorrectly so here are a few basic tips about car seats to keep your child safe.
According to Arizona law, any child 5 years old and younger must be in a car restraint system and children between ages 5 and 8 years old need to be in a car restraint system until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall. Arizona Law defines a car restraint system as devices used in a vehicle to protect infants and children from being injured in an accident and includes items such as car seats, infant safety seats, booster seats and special needs car seats.
- Register your car seat so that you are made aware of recalls and when your car seat expires. It is best to buy a new car seat and not buy a used car seat, as you do not know the history of a used car seat.
- Keeping your child rear facing as long as possible is the safest option.
- Read the label on the car seat for correct installation and requirements for your car seat. You can install your car seat with the lower anchors or seatbelt but do not use both.
- Check the height and weight requirements for the car seat to know when to transition to a new car seat or turn your child forward facing.
- The chest clip needs to be at the child’s nipple line and the straps need to be at or below the child’s shoulders for REAR FACING or at or above the child’s shoulders for FORWARD FACING. Pull tight to make a snug fit.
These are just the basics to ensure that your child is safe. Safe Kids Worldwide (safekids.org) is a great resource for families to answer further questions. You can check your local area for car seat checks as well as reach out to your therapist if you have specific questions or concerns.
Remember the basics and to read all the labels. Be safe!