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Car Seat Safety

Did you know 46 percent of car seats are installed wrong?

This is important to know because properly installed and correctly used car seats (also called child passenger restraints or child safety seats) can decrease the risk of fatal injury by 71-82 percent in children. Please read through the information below to learn how to select, install, and use child passenger restraints correctly. In addition, our certified child passenger safety technicians conduct free car seat installations and checks by appointment. Call 423-778-6691 to learn more or schedule your appointment.

Can my child ride in the front seat?

  • The safest place for a child to sit is in the back seat until at least 12 years of age.
  • If no back seats are available, a child may be restrained in the front passenger seat using appropriate restraint.
  • NEVER place a rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag.

When my child is over one year old and 20 lbs., do I have to turn them forward facing?

  • All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat (CSS) until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the maximum weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
  • All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the maximum, rear-facing weight or height limit for their CSS, should use a forward-facing CSS with a harness for as long as possible, up to the maximum weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.

Does my Child Safety Seat fit correctly in the vehicle?

  • Not all child safety seats fit correctly in all vehicles.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as well as the vehicle instructions when installing a child safety seat.
  • When the seat is installed, make sure the seat is buckled tightly in the car and does not move more than one inch side to side and forward and backward when pulled at belt path.

How snug should the harness system be?

  • The harness should fit snugly against your child’s body. You should not be able to pinch any material at your child’s shoulder. See your CSS instructions on how to make adjustments.
  • Harness clip should rest at armpit level.

Is my child in the correct type of seat and facing the right way for his/her height, weight and age?

  • Please check the inside of this brochure for instructions.

What is the LATCH system?

  • Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) is an anchor system that allows the car seat to be installed without using a seat belt.
  • Unless both the CSS and the car have this system, seat belts are still needed to keep the seat secure. Never use both.
  • Always follow both the vehicle and CSS manufacturer’s manual for instruction on proper instillation.

Is the seat belt in the right place and is it pulled tight enough?

  • When using only the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt system, the shoulder belt should rest snugly across the chest while resting on the shoulder, and the lap belt should rest low across the lap and upper thigh area—not across the stomach.
  • When using a CSS with an internal harness system, make sure the belt is routed through the correct path for either forward- or rear-facing CSS; place your knee in the seat and pull the
    belt tight until it locks.
  • Follow both the vehicle owner’s manual and the car seat manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation of safety seats and proper use of seat belts.

What should I do if my child’s seat has been recalled or in a crash?

  • Call the Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at for a list of recalled seats.
  • If the seat has been in a crash, notify the CSS manufacturer before using.
  • If you must use a secondhand seat, know the history.
    • Do not use a seat that has been in a crash, has been recalled, is more than 6 years old, or is cracked or missing parts. Be sure all manufacturer’s labels and instructions accompany the seat.

Schedule a Free Car Seat Inspection

Members of the Safe and Sound staff are certified child passenger safety technicians and conduct free car seat installations and checks by appointment. 

For more information or to schedule a car seat inspection, call 423-778-6691

If you've had a car seat inspection, let us know how we're doing. Take a quick online survey.