The key to having the safest car seats for children is making sure the seats are installed correctly. The LATCH system can really help.
What is LATCH?
LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. All vehicles made in the U.S. after 2002 are required to have LATCH built in.
What manufacturers build in to vehicles are anchors that are located between the back of the seat and the cushion. There is also a built in anchor at the top which secures two different positions of the seat.
What does LATCH Mean for You?
LATCH means that you no longer need to use a car’s seat belt to secure the seat. Installation is often difficult and the LATCH system helps make installation easier.
LATCH also is a more secure anchoring system as it keeps your child’s seat that much more solid and less likely to move or break in a frontal or side impact crash. You can still install car seats for children in older pre-LATCH vehicles using seat belts.
Infant only seats, rear facing, front facing and convertible and booster seats that are a combined front facing-booster seat all are LATCH ready when you buy them. Booster only seats and restraint vests may not have LATCH attachments.
The Safest Seat Made Must be Installed Correctly
Installing your child’s car seat correctly is critical. You can pay top dollar for the safest seat on the market but it will fail if it’s not installed right.
1 Always install car seats for children in the back seat. The force of an airbag going off in the front seat could seriously injure or kill your little one.
2. Always install a single car seat in the middle of the back seat. If your seat is a rear facing seat only, never install it facing forward.
3. The U.S. government has made it law that manufacturers include an instruction manual for installation. The manual must be detailed and clear. Call the manufacturer if any part of the book is unclear.
Do You Own a Convertible Seat?
4. Manufacturers should also make it clear when to turn a seat to face forward if the seat is a convertible seat. Convertible seats are rear facing seats until a child reaches the weight of 20-40 pounds and then should be turned to face forward.
5. When anchoring your front facing seat, push down on the seat with all of your weight to make sure that it’s really as tight as possible. Don’t be afraid to put your foot into the seat and really push down if necessary.
6. If you’re installing your seat into an older car, make sure you’re guiding the belt through the correct loops and be sure it’s tight. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that at least 75% of car seats on the road are not installed correctly.
Look for Car Seat Installation Check Sites
7. Many times you can find sites that will sponsor free installation of your seat or at least check them to insure they’re installed safely. If you have any doubts be sure to have your seat checked.
Car seats for children will greatly reduce the possibility of injury or death in youngsters involved in an accident. Make sure your child’s seat is installed correctly.