Sports & Health
The Doís and Doníts When Installing a Car Seat
By Deborah Stoneburner
Au-Authm Action News

Recently I attended the Car Seat Check at the Early Childhood Education Center within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Parents in vehicles lined up at the bus loop to have their new car seats installed by a certified technician. As the mother of a 2-year-old, safety is my No. 1 priority when riding in a vehicle. When my turn came, I was able to express my concerns to the technician about the correct way to install a car seat. The technician was able to show me step by step how to correctly install the car seat and adjust it to my childís weight and height. Itís all about keeping our children safe.

Here is a list of the doís and doníts of installing a car seat.


  • Take your vehicle and car seat to a car seat check event or other location where it can be properly installed by a certified technician. Here in the Community, this service is available through local law enforcement and the Behavioral Health and Education departments.
  • Purchase a car seat with a five-point harness, which prevents the seat from moving in case of an accident.
  • Make sure the child is buckled into the car seat at all times when the vehicle is in motion.
  • Infants and small children need to be rear-facing at all times. Be sure that their head is supported and their body is in an upright position. If there is extra room in the seat, roll small towels or blankets and place them in the sides of car seat so the baby wonít move side to side in the seat when youíre driving.
  • As your child gets older, check the label of the car seat for height and weight guidelines to see whether adjustments need to be made.
  • To ensure your child is strapped in securely, do the ďpinch test,Ē as described at With your child buckled into the car seat and the chest clip positioned at armpit level, place your middle finger under the strap to pull it up. Then, use the other two fingers to try the pinch. If there is no excess strap to pinch at all, or if your fingers slip off, then the harness is snug. But if you can find excess strap that can be easily folded, then the harness is too loose.
  • Communicate with your children as you buckle them in; tell them itís for their safety.
  • When a child weighs about 65 pounds, itís time to move up to a booster seat and seat belt.


  • Never face an infant forward in a car.
  • Donít forget to tighten the safety belt attachments until the car seat is not loose anymore.
  • Donít forget to recheck the attachments and harness whenever the car seat is removed from the vehicle and put back in. Even if the car seat is never removed from the vehicle, latches should still be rechecked for tightness every few months.
  • Never leave your child alone in the car seat while the vehicle is off. The inside temperature can increase quickly and the child could suffer heat-related injury or death.
  • Never buy car seats at garage or yard sales because there could be missing parts or damage that you are unaware of.
  • Donít put any young child in the front of the car; make sure the child is placed in the back seat in the correct position to avoid injury from air bags.
  • Donít keep toys or other loose objects in the car because they may become projectiles in case of an accident.
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The Doís and Doníts When Installing a Car Seat