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Palm Harbor Fire Rescue

Car Seat Safety

Check List



Using a car seat correctly makes a big difference.  Even the “safest” seat may not protect your child in a crash unless it is used correctly.  So take a minute to check to be sure your child is riding safe:


Does your car have a passenger air bag?

        Infants in a rear-facing seat should NEVER be placed in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger air bag.

        The safest place for all children to ride is in the BACK SEAT through the age of 13!

        If an older child must ride in the front seat, move the vehicle seat as far back from the air bag as possible and buckle the child properly.


Is your child facing the right way for both weight and age?

        Infants should ride facing the back of the car until they have reached the upper weight limit of their convertible seat, 30-35 pounds depending on the car seat.  Check the instructions for your car seat.


Has your child grown too tall or reached the top weight limit (usually 40 pounds) for the convertible or forward-facing seat?

        Use a belt-positioning booster seat to help protect your child until she is big enough to use a seat belt properly.

        A belt-positioning booster seat is used with a lap and shoulder belt.  Shield boosters are not recommended for any child and should be discarded.

        A seat belt fits properly when the shoulder belt crosses the chest, the lap belt fits flat across the hips while the child’s seat bottom is against the back of the seat, and his knees bend over the edge of the seat.  All children less than 4’9” tall should ride in a belt positioning booster.



Have you tried the car seat in your vehicle?

        Not all car seats fit in all vehicles.
When the car seat is installed, be sure it does not move side-to-side or toward the front  of the car.
Be sure to read the section on child restraints in the owner’s manual for your car.


Is the seat belt in the right place and pulled tight?

        Route the seat belt through the correct path (check your instructions to make sure), kneel in the seat to press it down, and pull the belt tight.

        A convertible seat has two different belt paths, one for infants and one for toddlers. 

        Check the owner’s manual for your car to see if you need to use a locking clip and read the car seat instructions to see if you need a tether to keep the car seat secure.


Is the harness snug; does it stay on your child’s shoulders?

        The shoulder straps of the car seat usually go in the lowest slots for infants riding backward and in the highest slots for children facing forward.  (Check the car seat manufacturer’s instructions to be sure.)


Do you have the instructions for the car seat?

  • Follow them and keep them with the car seat.  You will need them as your child gets bigger.
  • Be sure to send in the registration card that comes with the car seat.  It will be important in case your car seat is recalled.


Has your child’s car seat been recalled?

  • Call the Auto Safety Hotline (number below) for a list of recalled seats that need repair.
  • Be sure to make any necessary repairs to your car seat.


Has your child’s car seat been in a crash?

  • If so, it may have been weakened and should not be used, even if it looks all right.
  • Call the car seat manufacturer if you have questions about the safety of your seat.

What if I can’t afford a car seat for my child?

  • If you are unable to purchase a car seat for your child at retail prices, convertible seats and booster seats will be available for a nominal fee by attending a 2 hour class at Palm Harbor Fire Rescue. The class is offered the second Wednesday of each month from 9:30am-11:30am. This informative and interactive class is designed to show you, the parent or guardian, how to properly install your child's car seat in your vehicle.

  • Convertible seats for children birth to 50 pounds are $20.00, and booster seats for children over 50 pounds and to approximately 8 to 10 years old are $10.00. (Supplies are limited to one car seat per child.)

  • You must pre-register on line at


Palm Harbor Fire Rescue conducts car seat safety checks free of charge, by appointment only.  Call 787-5974 to schedule an appointment.



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