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Child Car Safety

A SAFE BABY IS A HAPPY BABY!

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USE PROPER RESTRAINTS ON EVERY TRIP

 

Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip—no matter how short the trip.

Parents and caregivers: Always wear a seat belt.

Set a good example by always using a seat belt.

 

Install and use car seats and booster seats according to the car seat/booster seat manual, or get help installing them from a certified child passenger safety technicianexternal icon.

Find a child passenger safety technicianexternal icon.

 

Know the Stages:

 

CDC provides guidance to ensure children are properly buckled in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt— whichever is appropriate for their age, height, and weight.

 

Rear-facing car seat:

Birth until age 2–4.

Infants and toddlers should be buckled in a rear-facing car seat with a harness, in the back seat, until they reach the maximum weight or height limit of their car seat. This offers the best possible protection. Check the car seat manual and labels on the car seat for weight and height limits. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat. Front passenger air bags can injure or kill young children in a crash.

 

Forward-facing car seat:

After outgrowing the rear-facing car seat and until at least age 5.

 

When children outgrow their rear-facing car seats, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat with a harness, in the back seat. They should stay in the forward-facing car seat until they reach the maximum weight or height limit of this seat.

 

Check the car seat manual and labels on the car seat for weight and height limits.

 

Booster seat:

After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat and until the seat belt fits properly.

When children outgrow their forward-facing car seat, they should be buckled in a belt-positioning booster seat with a seat belt, in the back seat, until the seat belt fits properly without a booster seat. A seat belts fits properly when the lap belt is across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt is across the center of the shoulder and chest (not on the neck/face or off the shoulder). This typically does not occur until children are age 9–12.

 

Seat belt:

Children no longer need to use a booster seat when the seat belt fits them properly. A seat belt fits properly when the lap belt is across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt is across the center of the shoulder and chest (not on the neck/face or off the shoulder). This typically does not occur until children are age 9–12. Seat belt fit can vary by vehicle so check belt fit in all vehicles to make sure the child no longer needs to use a booster seat. It could be that a child might need a booster seat in one vehicle but not another. Keep children properly buckled and in the back seat through age 12 for the best possible protection.

 

 Dos and Don'ts For Safety

  • Don’t seat children in front of an air bag.

  • Air bags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an air bag.

  • Buckle children in the back seat.

  • Properly buckle all children age 12 and younger in the back seat.

  • Always buckle older children who use booster seats or seat belts with a lap and shoulder belt. Both the lap and shoulder belt are needed for proper protection.

  • Buckle children in the middle of the back seat.

  • Properly buckle children in the middle seating position of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest position in the vehicle.18

  • If the middle seating position contains only a lap belt, older children using booster seats or seat belts should sit in a different seating position in the back seat where they can use both a lap and shoulder belt.

 

Most rear-facing and forward-facing car seats can be safely installed in the middle seating position using the lap belt only, so younger children using these types of seats can be safely positioned in the middle.

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