Is my child safety seat secured in the vehicle correctly?
How tightly should a child safety seat be installed?
How do I use a locking clip?
What is LATCH and how do I use it?
needs a child safety seat, booster seat, or safety belt!
- There must be one safety belt for each person. Buckling
two people, even children, into one belt could result in
- People who are not buckled up can be thrown from the
or thrown around inside the car, seriously injuring themselves or
- Never hold a child on your lap! You could crush
him/her in a crash, or the child will be torn from your arms.
- Never ride in the cargo area of a station
wagon, van, or pickup! Anyone riding in the cargo area could
be thrown out and severely injured or killed.
- No one child safety seat is ‘best.' The ‘best' child safety seat is the
one that fits your child and can be installed correctly every
- Children age 12 and under should ride properly restrained in
the back seat.
Is My Child Safety Seat Secured In The Vehicle Correctly?
- Each child safety seat needs a safety belt or LATCH system to hold
it in place. LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
is a system designed to make child safety seat installation easier.
- Check the child safety seat instructions and the vehicle owner's
manual for tips on using a safety belt or LATCH system to install
your child safety seat.
- If using a safety belt, put the vehicle safety belt through
the correct belt path on the child safety seat (See Figure
A). Check the child safety seat instructions or look for
labels on the seat that mark the correct safety belt bath.
Use the correct belt path for the direction the child safety seat
- The child safety seat must stay tight at all times. Check
for tight fit by holding the seat at the belt path and by
sliding the seat side to side and forward.
To check for tight fit, by grasp the child safety seat at the
belt path and attempt to slide it from side to side and forward.
The child safety seat should not move more than one inch
sideways or toward the front of the vehicle.
- To do its job, a child safety seat must be held
tightly against the vehicle seat back. If the lap part of the
safety belt is not tight or the child safety seat slides around
on the vehicle seat, the child may not be protected by the
child safety seat.
- ALWAYS read the instructions that come with
your child safety seat and your vehicle owner's manual. Both resources have
valuable information to ensure safe use of child safety seats.
If you cannot attach the seat tightly, contact
the child safety seat or vehicle manufacturer customer service number
for help or contact the U.S. Department of Transportation Auto Safety
Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236) or www.nhtsa.dot.gov
Click here to find a Certified
Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area.
WARNING: The back seat is the safest place
in a crash. Children age 12 and under should always ride properly
restrained in the back seat. Infants riding rear-facing must NEVER be
placed in front of an active air bag. Infants must ALWAYS ride
facing the rear of the car.
How Tightly Should a Child Safety Seat Be Installed?
The lap part of the safety belt must hold the child safety seat firmly
- Place the safety belt through the correct belt path
and pull the safety belt all the way out (See Figure A) .
After pulling the safety belt all the way out, pull all of the slack out of the lap part of the safety belt.
- To make it tight, push the child safety seat down
into the vehicle seat cushion with your body weight, and pull all
the slack out of the lap part of the belt (See Figure B) .
Feed the safety belt slack back into the retractor while your body weight is still in the child safety seat. Push down on the child safety
seat with your body weight to get the safety belt really tight.
- Grasp the child safety seat at the belt path and attempt to slide it from side to side and forward. The child safety seat should not move more than one inch sideways or toward the front of the
vehicle. See Figure
- If the safety belt loosens or the child safety seat slides forward or
sideways more than one inch, the child may not be well protected.
You may need to use a locking clip or try another seating location
in the vehicle.
Some lap and shoulder safety belt systems may require the use
of a locking clip. Check the vehicle owner's
manual. If a locking clip is needed, follow these steps:
the safety belt through the correct belt path
on the child safety seat and buckle it (See Figure A) .
- Push down on the child safety seat (See
Figures B and C) . Pull up on the shoulder portion of
the safety belt until the lap portion of the safety belt is pulled
- Hold the two parts of the safety belt together
at the safety belt latch plate and unbuckle the safety belt.
- Put both parts of the safety belt through the locking
clip, close to the latch plate (See Figure E) .
- Buckle the safety belt again. If you put the clip
on correctly, the safety belt will now stay tight around the child
- Remove the locking clip whenever the belt is not holding
a child safety seat in.
WARNING: This is the ONLY way a regular locking
clip that comes with most child safety seats may be used. Using
it any other way or on any other type of safety belt can cause
serious injuries. If your safety belt locks, you do not need a
locking clip. Check your vehicle owner's manual to see if your
safety belt locks without a locking clip.
What Is LATCH and How Do I Use It?
Lower Anchors And Tethers for Children
The LATCH system is designed to make child safety seat installation
easier. The LATCH system is required on all child safety seats and
in all vehicles made after September 1, 2002. With the LATCH
system, the vehicle safety belt is not used unless recommended by
- Vehicles will have
a top tether anchor and two lower anchor points. The lower
anchor points can be found between the vehicle's seat cushion
and the seat back.
- Most newer child safety seats will have a
top tether strap and all will have two lower attachments.
The lower attachments are hooks or connectors attached to
straps (flexible) or part of the child safety seat frame itself
- Flexible attachments have adjusters to tighten the straps. To check for a tight fit, grasp the child safety seat at the belt path and attempt to slide it from side to side and forward. The child safety seat should not move more than one inch sideways or toward the front of the vehicle.
- For a forward-facing child safety seat, you should use the lower anchors and a top tether OR a safety belt and a top tether. You never use both the lower anchors and the safety belt unless recommended by the manufacturer. When your child is rear-facing , only use the safety belt or lower anchorage system to install the seat. Very few rear-facing child safety seats also use a tether strap. Check your child safety seat instructions to see if your rear-facing child safety seat can be used with a tether.
ALWAYS read and follow the child
safety seat instructions and the vehicle owner's manual!
A Tether Can Help Keep A Child Safety Seat Secure
- A tether is a strap that connects the top of a child safety seat to an anchor bolted to the vehicle's frame. A tether strap helps keep the child safety seat tightly installed and significantly reduces the risk of head, neck and spinal cord injury.
- Tethers can be used along with the vehicle safety belt or with the lower anchors of the LATCH System.
- Almost all passenger vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2000, and many late 1990's vehicles are required to have tether anchors. They can be located in many different places; check the vehicle owner's manual for instructions.
- Many older vehicles have holes pre-drilled above or behind the rear seat; some vehicles have pre-threaded nuts installed. Read the vehicle owner's manual for more details.
To Use a Tether
- Properly install the child safety seat using the vehicle
safety belt or LATCH system.
- Attach the tether hook to the correct anchor point in
the vehicle; check the vehicle owner's manual.
- Pull the tether strap adjuster so that the strap is snug.
- Some tethers have a metal slide adjuster
to tighten the strap. Follow the manufacturer's instructions
| WARNING: ALWAYS follow the
child safety seat manufacturer's instructions for using the
tether strap. Do NOT use the tether strap
for rear-facing seats unless the manufacturer provides instructions
to do so. Use ONLY designated tether anchor
locations. Using anything else, could
cause serious injury to a child.