Car Seat Safety Installation and Education

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in the United States.  4 out of 5 car seats are installed incorrectly – they are often minor mistakes but could be dangerous mistakes in an accident.

rear-facing-toddlerWhat is the correct safety seat for my child?

“You might think it is the most expensive, elaborate seat you can buy or the one with the best ratings per whatever commercial says so”, Firefighter/EMT Maryn Otto states, “The correct seat for your child is the seat that fits your vehicle, fits your child, and is one that you will use correctly every time your child rides in the vehicle!”

Parents are making five critical, but fixable, mistakes when using car seats, according to new data announced by Safe Kids Worldwide and the General Motors Foundation. With so many safety features now available in both cars and car seats, parents are urged to make sure their kids are getting every advantage by taking the time to do a 15-minute at-home checkup.

15 Minute Car Seat Checkup Checklist:

Correct Seat.
This is an easy one. Check the label on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height. Like milk, your car seat has an expiration date. Just double check the label on your car seat to make sure it is still safe.

Correct Place.
Kids are VIPs, just ask them. We know all VIPs ride in the back seat, so keep all children in the back seat until they are 13.

Correct Direction.
You want to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, usually until around age 2. When he or she outgrows the seat, move your child to a forward-facing car seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower anchors. Continue to use a booster seat until your child properly fits in the seat belt, usually when they are between the ages of 8 and 12.

Inch Test.
Once your car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base/belt path. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch in any direction.

Pinch Test.
Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check car seat manual). Now, with the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap lenghtwise at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.


More safety tips on child car seats:

Safe Kids Top Child Restratint Seat Tips 

Washington State Law on Passenger Restraint

RCW 46.61.687

Click below to locate car seat safety technicians in your area.

Child Passenger Safety Technician

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Recommendation on Car Seats

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the governing body for vehicle safety regulations which includes child passenger safety.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administartion (NHTSA)


For information on all child restraint recalls, please click on the link below.

National Car Seat Recall Information

Safety Restraint Coalition Recall Info