Child Car Seat Safety

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Don't Risk Your Child's Safety

Safety Belt Fit Test


Did you know that more than 80 percent of child car seats are improperly installed? Northridge Hospital Medical Center, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) want to reduce that statistic by providing free car seat educational seminars and installation days. Attend one of our free classes and have your car seat checked.

A safety belt fit test is now being used as the gold standard to determine if a child is ready to sit without a booster seat. If the answer to ANY of the questions is “No,” the child needs to remain in a booster seat.

1. Have your child sit in the back seat with his or her bottom and back against the vehicle’s seat back. Do the child’s knees bend at the seat’s edge?

2. Buckle the seat belt. Does the lap belt stay low on the hips or high on the thigh?

3. Look at the shoulder belt. Does it lie on the collarbone and shoulder?

4. Can the child maintain the correct seating position with the shoulder belt on the shoulder and the lap belt low across the hips or high on the thighs?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then the child should return to a booster seat and re-test in a month.

If you're looking for a new seat, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ranked the Best Bet Booster Seats meaning they "correctly position a vehicle safety belt on a typical 4- to 8-year-old in almost any car, minivan or SUV."

5 Reasons to Throw Away Your Child’s Car Seat

Do the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "One-Minute" safety check list. 

Nationally, the misuse rate for child safety seats is over 80 percent and as high as 95 percent in some areas.

The good news is that car seats and boosters, when used correctly, do save lives. Infant seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent and toddler seats by 54 percent.

  1. It’s more than six years old. Look on the label for the date it was made. Current safety seats have better safety features than older seats, such as a tether or air bag warnings. Most manufacturers have a maximum car seat life of six years because the plastic shell and other parts can wear down. But, recommended retirement dates of car seats can vary, so call the manufacturer. If the seat doesn't have a label with the date of manufacturer and model number, you won't be able to check to see if the seat has been recalled.
  2. The plastic shell has any visible cracks or the foam is malfunctioning.
  3. It has been recalled and appropriate corrections have not been made. Check the label for manufacturer information and model number to see if the corrections have been made.
  4. Missing parts and the seat is unable to restrain the child properly.
  5. It was in a moderate or severe car accident. Seats that were in a minor crash may still be safe to use. The NHTSA considers a crash minor if all of the following are true:
    • The vehicle could be driven away from the crash.
    • The vehicle door closest to the car safety seat was not damaged.
    • No one in the vehicle was injured.
    • The air bags did not deploy.
    • You can't see any damage to the car safety seat
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Northridge Hospital Medical Center
18300 Roscoe Blvd
Northridge, CA 91328
(818) 885-8500