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Proper Use Of Child Safety Seats

Do’s And Don’t’s On Safest Practices

As a Low Cost Car Insurance carrier, we want to ensure you have the most accurate information on the proper use of child safety seats when traveling with small children. When used correctly, child safety seats can prevent injuries or death in the event of an accident. If used incorrectly, they can actually cause serious injury in an accident, even death. Consequently, if you have New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Maryland car insurance with IFA, we have offer the following tips in an effort to advise you about the best child safety seat use.

Child Safety Seat Do’s

  • Route harness straps in lower slots placed at or below the child’s shoulder level, keeping them snug with clip fastened at armpit level
  • Ensure straps are flat and not twisted
  • Avoid bulky clothes on your child that could affect the strap slack or that could restrict strap placement; adjust straps to be placed between the legs, allowing for comfortable but snug placement around clothes thickness
  • If necessary, pad the sides of the safety seat and between the legs of your infant with rolled up diapers or blankets to prevent infant slouching
  • Always ensure the carrying handle is down when in the car
  • Place infant seats in the back facing the rear of the car at a 45-degree angle for neck protection; if his/her head flops forward, recline may be insufficient for proper safety so you should adjust until level with a rolled up towel beneath the seat’s base
  • Newer cars come with tether straps (belts) bolted to the window ledge or floor affixing the safety seat to prevent it from being thrown forward; tether kits are available for older cars and seats so check with the manufacturer if required.

Child Safety Seat Don’ts

  • Never put an infant in the front seat with a passenger air bag present
  • Do not use a safety seat that has a cracked base or that is too old (prior to January 1981); some manufacturers put expiry dates on them, recommending you not use them for more than six (6) years
  • Do not use a safety seat missing a label that includes manufacture date and model number; without this information you have no way of knowing if the seat as been recalled or not
  • Never use a safety seat that has been involved in a crash; it’s safety features could be compromised regardless of how it looks
  • Never use a child safety seat that does not come with instructions; if necessary, contact the manufacturer for a duplicate manual on how to properly install the seat for maximum protection
  • If parts are missing, it is vital to contact the manufacturer and get the right parts; if not available, do not use the seat.

Additional Safety Resources

To determine if your child’s safety seat has been recalled, IFA recommends you contact the Auto Safety Hotline at 888.DASH-2-DOT. If recalled, follow the instructions to get necessary parts or replacement. You can also get a registration card to fill out and return for notifications of any additional recalls, should they occur.

For additional information about infant and toddler safety seats, contact the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at As your premium low cost car insurance carrier, we also recommend the National SafeKids campaign at for information concerning proper age/weight guidelines, with recommended car seats for each category. Additionally, we suggest visiting the American Academy of Pediatrics at for a detailed shopping guide.

Finally, we recommend keeping your child in a child safety seat for as long as possible. Once big enough, ensure you car’s seatbelts fit him/her properly with the shoulder strap lying comfortably across their shoulder (not neck or throat). The lap belt should be low and flat across the hips (not stomach), with their knees bending easily over the edge of the vehicle’s seat. If your child is ‘in between’ safety size guidelines, you may want to use a booster seat until the belts fit properly as noted above. Do not adjust the belts improperly such as tucking one behind a child’s arm or behind their back. If using a belt only, ensure it is snug and low across the hips, not over their stomach.