by Pat Goss
This time we’re going to talk about a very important safety issue, child safety seats. And joining us to explain it is Tracy Whitman from the Kids in Safety Seats program.
Whitman: Hi, Pat.
Goss:Hi. All right, I know nothing about safety seats. Walk me through it.
Whitman: Okay. First we would suggest that you select the correct restraint for a child’s age, weight, and physical limitations. For example, Joseph is a rear-facing infant. He needs to ride backwards with a snug harness, and his harness retainer clip connected at armpit level to make sure it’s correctly positioned over his shoulders.
Whitman:After he graduates out of the rear-facing infant restraint, he’ll then move into the forward-facing restraint like Olivia. Olivia is going to be fully upright, have her straps coming from the top set of slots. She’ll also have a snug harness and her retainer clip again will be at armpit level to hold the straps over their shoulders.
Goss: All right. And ...
Whitman:Jack has outgrown his 40-pound harness restraint, so what he’s in is a belt-positioning booster, which uses the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt to secure the child to the vehicle. What a booster seat does is physically raises a small child up so the lap belt fits low over the hips and thighs and the shoulder belt comes across the center of the chest.
Goss:Okay, so now another thing that we have here, there’s a new LATCH mechanism, right?
Whitman: Yes. I’m glad you mentioned that. I have a demonstration seat over here, and this seat is equipped to be used with the seat belt or the LATCH system. LATCH is an acronym for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, and it will have a bottom set of lower anchor attachments as well as your top tether strap, which will be used in the back of the vehicle.
Goss: Okay. What would be the steps in installing one of these seats?
Whitman:After you’ve selected the correct position in the vehicle to place the car seat and you’ve read through the car seat manual and the vehicle owner’s manual, you’ll then attach the car seat to the seat belt. Using LATCH anchors, you’ll clip them both into the bite of the seat around the bars receptacle that are there. And then you’ll attach your tether anchors, tighten all of your belts, and you’re installed.
Goss: Okay, now where do we position the seats in the car and where don’t we?
Whitman: Well, first you want to avoid any front vehicle seats. Anytime there’s a live or activated passenger side airbag, we always recommend you put children in the back. If you have a rear-facing infant seat, you cannot under any circumstances put that child in the front seat. Children 12 and under are safest in the back, away from the airbags.
Goss: Okay, and even if they’re not in a safety seat, wear the seatbelts.
Whitman: Seatbelts always.
Goss: Okay, Tracy, thank you.
Whitman: Thank you, Pat.
If you have a question or comment, write to me. The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.