Car safety is an important part of your child’s heath care. Statistics show that car accidents are the number one cause of serious injury or death for infants and children. Today the greatest threat to your baby’s health is the family car. Car seats and seat restraints are saving lives. The use of car seats and seat restraints is mandatory in Texas. Please use the life-saving devices for you child and remember to use seat belts yourself. The purchase of a car safety seat, to be used beginning with your child’s very first ride, can be the best investment you will make for your child’s safety.
When shopping for a good safety seat, consider the following:
All child restraints manufactured after January 1981 must meet Federal safety standards. A sticker with this information should be on the car seat.
Does the seat fit your car? Before you bring the seat for the baby’s first ride home, install it in your car according to the instructions.
Will the safety seat require a tether strap? Is it easy or difficult to move from car to car? Is the safety seat easy to use? Can both you and your partner easily install it securely and can each of you easily place and remove the baby?
If you purchase a used car seat as a garage sale, or borrow one from a friend and there is no sticker on the seat you may call the following Auto Safety and Consumer Information number to ask if the seat is approved and if there are any special instructions: 1-800-424-9393.
Once You Have Purchased a Car Seat, Use it Correctly:
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for correct installation. Save the 1-800 numbers from the instruction booklet and call the manufacturer with any specific questions.
Infants less than 22 lbs AND under a year of age should always ride facing the rear and be semi-reclined.
Is the seat secured properly with the lap belt? Does it stay anchored to the seat once belted in? Pull on it or rock it from side to side to see if the belt loosens. If it does, a metal locking clip should be used to prevent the belt form slipping.
Are the shoulder straps properly adjusted? Infants should have the shoulder straps come from below the shoulders in back and should stay on snugly in the proper position.
If you purchased a safety seat just for infants (less than 22 lbs.), make sure it is approved for car use (not all brands are approved for car use.)
Do not put padding or blankets under the baby. Strap your baby in first and the put blankets on top. To help hold your baby’s head properly, strap your baby in first, and then add rolled blankets or use a pre-made “head roll” seat cover with slits in the material for proper positioning in the seat.
When riding with your baby in the car seat, an adult should have immediate access to him. If you are traveling with two adults, one should try to sit in the rear next to the car seat that is in the rear-facing position. If only one adult is traveling with your baby, that person (the driver) should position the car seat securely in the seat next to him or her with the baby seat in the rear-facing position. IF THE FRONT PASSENGER SEAT HAS AN AIRBAG, DO NOT PUT THE CARSEAT THERE. THIS CAN RESULT IN SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH.
In general, the back seat is safer than the front (for children of all ages), and the center of the vehicle is safer than the sides.
NEVER carry your child in your arms in the car. Even if you are wearing a lap and shoulder harness, your child would be torn from your arms by the force of the crash, and be crushed into the dashboard.
NEVER put the lap belt over your child on someone’s lap either. In a crash, the weight of the person holding your child would press the belt dangerously deep into your child’s soft body causing serious internal injuries.