Northwest Fire District

Car Safety Seats

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Riding unrestrained is the single greatest risk factor for death and injury among child motor vehicle occupants.

Among children ages 14 and under killed as occupants in motor vehicle crashes in 2002, 50% were not using safety restraints at the time of the collision.

Misuse is common.

An estimated 90% of children in Tucson who are placed in child safety seats and booster seats are improperly restrained.

Misuse includes:

  • using an inappropriate seat for the child’s age and size
  • placing an infant who is either under 1 year or under 20 pounds in a forward-facing seat
  • not securing the seat tightly in the vehicle
  • not securing the child correctly in the seat

When placing a child in a car seat:

  • Never place rear facing infants in front seat with passenger-side air bags.
  • Rear facing seats should never be touching the front seats.
  • Infant (under one year AND 20 pounds) should always face the rear of the vehicle.
  • Child safety seat needs to be anchored in vehicle by a safety belt.
  • Child must be buckled in a child safety seat.
  • Child safety seat harness straps in slot at or below infant’s shoulder (rear facing) and at or above toddler’s shoulder (forward facing).
  • Harness straps need to be snug – no more than one adult finger should fit under harness.
  • Harness retainer clip must be at armpit level to hold harness strap properly over shoulders.
  • Vehicle safety belt must hold child safety seat tightly and be threaded through correct belt path of child safety seat.
  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual to insure proper installation.

There is no single safest child safety seat for all children and vehicles.  The safest seat is one that fits your child, fits your vehicle and one you will use correctly each and every time.

Infant Seats – Birth to 20 Pounds (birth to age one):

Infants should be in a reclined infant car seat or convertible seat in the infant position to protect the delicate neck and head. All straps should be pulled snugly. The car seat must face the rear of the car and should never be used in a front seat where there is an air bag. The infant must face the rear so that in the event of a crash, swerve, or sudden stop, the infant’s back and shoulders can better absorb the impact.

Convertible Seats – 5 to 40 Pounds:

The convertible car seat is placed in a reclined rear-facing position until an infant is 1 year and 20 pounds.  After children reach at least 1 year and 20 pounds, the convertible seat can be turned forward and placed in the upright position in the back seat of the vehicle. DO NOT RECLINE A FORWARD FACING SEAT.  Fasten the convertible car seat with a vehicle seat belt, properly inserting the belt through the car seat frame according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Read the vehicle owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Booster Seats – 40 to 80 Pounds:

When a child outgrows the convertible car seat or weighs about 40 pounds, either a belt positioning (backless) or high-back booster seat can be used with a lap/shoulder belt in the back seat of the vehicle.