You have an important job as a parent—providing a safe experience for your child while he or she is riding in a vehicle. Thousands of children are injured or killed in Florida car crashes each year, and the right car seat can protect your child from getting hurt.
Choosing the right car seat is essential for keeping your child safe, but with so many options out there, it can be difficult to know which seat is the right one – something that is based on your child’s age, height, weight and other needs.
In this guide, we’re going to go over the different types of car seats available, offer tips on knowing when children are ready to graduate from one stage to the next, and go over proper installation techniques.
Consider these guidelines based on your child’s individual characteristics.
Infants and Toddlers
Rear-facing seats are required for infants and smaller toddlers. These seats are safest for children until they have outgrown them. A rear-facing seat may be static, or it may convert to a forward-facing seat.
Check the car seat manufacturer’s recommendations for height and weight limits. A rear-facing seat secures the child in a five-point harness and is normally rated for toddlers up to 35 pounds.
Some infant car seats have a base that stays in the vehicle while the car seat can move in and out. Not only can these types of seats be carried around with you, often they will pair with a stroller, so you can safely move your child from one to the other without disturbing them.
You can purchase more than one base for use in multiple vehicles.
If your baby slouches or leans inside the seat, you can roll up two blanket and use it to stabilize your child on both sides. You should not place any padding behind or under your baby for safety reasons.
A convertible seat can be used for an infant and then switched to a forward-facing seat for when your child exceeds the rear-facing weight limit. They do not come with a base that allows the seat to be removed and carried with you.
These seats typically have a higher weight limit of up to 50 pounds, though some go higher.
You can also purchase a 3-in-1 seat that transitions from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat, then to a booster for an older child. These seats are larger than others, so make sure they fit in your vehicle before you purchase one.
It is important to note that both convertible and 3-in-1 seats typically have separate weight limits for rear-facing and forward facing, and that often they are rated for higher rear-facing weights.
Why does this matter? Because studies have shown that children are safer (at any weight) when in rear-facing seats. The longer you can keep your child facing the rear, the safer they will be.
Toddlers and Preschool Children
As mentioned above, children who are too big for a rear-facing car seat can use a forward-facing seat with a harness. The harness will keep them safer than a seat without a harness.
Use this type of seat until your child outgrows the height and weight restrictions as listed by the car seat manufacturer. Typically, these seats are used until a child is at least four years old – but remember that weight and height limits matter face more than age. Many parents make the mistake of putting their kids in “older” seats before they’re ready.
Some vehicles are equipped with built-in forward-facing seats. These built-in seats should not be used unless your child is at least two years old. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for information about height and weight restrictions.
Children of elementary school age can use a booster seat once they have outgrown a forward-facing seat. Again, this means checking height and age requirements. Booster seats are recommended for children who are under 4’ 9” and are typically younger than 12 years of age. Booster seats should always be placed in the back seat of the vehicle.
Older children must use lap and shoulder seat belts once they are tall enough to wear them. Children younger than 13 years of age should still ride in the back seat for maximum safety.
Installing a Car Seat
Car seats can be installed with the existing seat belts or the LATCH system, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. If your vehicle was made after September 1, 2002, it is likely equipped with two lower anchors between the seat cushions and one upper tether behind the seat, on the ceiling or on the floor.
Both seat belt and LATCH systems provide security in a car accident. It’s best to use only one system unless the car seat manufacturer recommends using both seat belts and LATCH. Seat belts must be tightly adjusted for safety.
Lower anchors are approved for a maximum combined weight of 65 pounds, which includes your child and the car seat. Check the car seat manufacturer’s recommendations to know if a certain seat is appropriate for your child.
When you follow these tips for proper car seat use, you can protect your child from injury or death in a Florida auto accident.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
July 4th tends to evoke backyard barbecues, poolside cocktails, and fireworks at dusk. We usually think of spending this holiday with family, and staying close to home. On the contrary, AAA pegs the fourth as one of their busiest days. Did you know the average distance traveled on July 4th is 617 miles? What’s more, [..]
When most of us think about Fourth of July safety, we think about fireworks. Although improper use of fireworks can cause serious injuries, there’s a less obvious risk: food poisoning. Most Fourth of July celebrations involve outdoor gatherings, with perishable food that’s often brought in by a number of people, some of whom may not [..]
Summer is upon us, and it’s peak swimming pool season in the sunshine state. Although swimming is a great way to cool off and get some exercise, it can also be dangerous. Statistics show three children die every day from swimming pool accidents, and many more people sustain serious injuries. In many cases, these tragic [..]
Memorial Day offers a time to celebrate loved ones lost. It also signals the beginning of another Florida summer which often means road trip! In either case, we all find a reason and a way to cut loose. Unfortunately, these celebrations also lead to an uptick in car accidents. The primary causes? More cars on [..]
Johnson & Johnson has been a trusted name in cosmetics and household products for decades. However, in recent years, they have come under fire for lawsuits that suggest their talcum powder products caused cancer. The company isn’t just paying with a blow to their reputation, either. Earlier this year, a woman in California won $29 [..]
Every summer, Floridians look forward to that much needed break that summer camp provides: the kids to get away from the daily grind of the school year, and you to get a little breathing room from them. Exactly how much of a break would it be, though, if you’re still holding your breath in anticipation [..]
Temperatures are rising and a lot of long weekends are just around the corner. Whether you’re planning to hop in your boat for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or other summer holidays, it’s important to stay safe this season. Boating accidents do happen here in Florida, and many can be fatal. In 2017, 658 [..]
In the height of prom season, across the country, local police and first responders work with surrounding schools, survivors, and other drunk driving prevention organizations to reenact realistic reminders of why teens in their communities shouldn’t drink and drive. One survivor in Illinois recounted his experience of being ejected through a car window after plowing [..]
Cycling is not only a convenient and healthy way to get around in Florida, but it’s widely accepted as an effective means of reducing congestion on the road and improving the quality of our environment. However, the relationship between drivers and cyclists in Florida has always been tinged with antagonism. Motorists often complain that cyclists [..]
We live in an animal-loving society. Most of us interact with pets on a daily basis (ours or others), and they are an important part of many people’s lives. However, it is vital to remember that all animals are, at their core, wild, and sometimes things go wrong. What happens when an animal bites someone? [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
Florida’s summer is well underway, and the hot weather is a perfect excuse to get out on the water. With close to 900,000 registered vessels in the state, chances are that you or someone you know owns a boat and is planning to use it this season. Getting out on a lake or the ocean [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
Car accidents can result in tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. How is it decided who will have to pay for these damages and bills? In Florida, it usually starts with personal injury protection (PIP). If you experience damages that add up to less than [..]