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Child Safety Seats
A statewide survey shows only 84% of parents use safety seats for their children. Of the 84% who use them, 97% do so incorrectly. These infants and toddlers are at risk of being injured in a car accident because their child safety seats are either outdated or not installed properly.
The Ankeny Police Department wants to help you and your child. We have four certified safety seat technicians on staff to help recommend, install, and properly secure a child's safety seat in your vehicle.
An Iowa Governors Traffic Safety Bureau study identified the following frequently observed types of misuse or non-use of child safety restraints:
- Safety harness too loose or not attached
- Child safety seat not properly installed in vehicle
- Child sitting on lap
- Child safety seat facing in wrong direction
- Child standing on seat
- What is the best car seat for my child?
The best car seat is one that meets your child's age and size requirements and is compatible with your car. Children are safer in the back seat of the vehicle. Generally, the middle seating position is the safest place in the car, but only if the child's car seat and the vehicle seat are compatible and you can get a tight fit. Due to the countless variations of car seats, vehicle seats, and safety belt systems, the most important thing you can do to make sure your child's car seat is installed properly is to thoroughly read both your car seat manufacturer's instructions and your vehicle owner's manual. If you are unable to secure the seat properly, bring your vehicle, car seat, and child to the Ankeny Police Department to have it checked by one of our Safety Technicians.
- At what age should I turn my infant's car seat around to face forward?
An infant should be forward-facing after 1 year and weigh at least 20 pounds to reduce the risk of cervical spine injury in the event of a crash. Many infant-only seats and convertible seats are tested up to 20 or 22 pounds rear-facing, which is a problem when an infant reaches 20 to 22 pounds before their first birthday. Fortunately, there are seats for weights higher than 22 pounds in the rear-facing position.
Important: Check labels on car seats to confirm the weight limits! Read both the car seat instructions and the vehicle owner's manual for the correct use and installation of your car seat.
- What about air bags and kids?
Airbags have been designed to help protect adults in front-end collisions, but not children. So it is very important that all children ages 12 and under or less than 5 feet tall be properly restrained in the back seat. If it is absolutely necessary for a child to ride in the front seat of a car with a passenger-side air bag:
- Secure the child in a restraint system that is correct for the size of the child: a front-facing car seat, a booster seat, or a lap / shoulder belt.
- Move the front seat as far back away from the dashboard as possible.
- Never allow a child to lean forward toward the dashboard.
- Never put a rear-facing infant in the front passenger seat of a vehicle with an active passenger-side airbag.
- Is it okay to use a used Child Safety Seat?
Some used seats may have no safety problems, especially if they are fairly new and have had only one user. However, any used seat may have multiple problems and must be checked carefully before use. Here are some questions to ask regarding a used seat:
- Has the seat been in a crash?
If so, it should not be used again and should be destroyed. Possible unseen damage may make it less effective in a second crash.
- Does it have a label stating that it meets all Federal safety standards and a sticker with the manufacture date (after January 1, 1981) and model number?
Without these, you cannot be sure if it has ever been recalled. Most child passenger safety educators advise against using a child safety seat that is more than 10 years old. There have been many improvements in ease of use during that time. Older seats may have suffered from exposure to heat, sunlight, or severe cold over the years. It is impossible to know the effect of this exposure.
- Does the child safety seat have all its parts and its instruction booklet?
The label instructions may not be complete or adequate.
- What is its general condition and structural integrity?
Inspect the frame, shell, and harness straps. It is possible to replace pads and straps.
- Has it been recalled?
You need the model number and date of manufacture for this. You can find recall information by calling the NHTSA Auto Safety Hotline at 800-424-9393.
For more information about the proper use of child safety seats, visit the following websites:
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau
- Car Safety Seats: A Guide for Families by the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Has the seat been in a crash?
- The back seat is the safest place for children of any age to ride
- Infants in rear-facing child safety seats should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger airbag
- Infants must always ride facing the rear of the car
- Make sure everyone is buckled up. Unbuckled occupants can be hurt or killed by an airbag
- Unsafe seats should be destroyed so that they cannot be used by unsuspecting people