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One minute safety checkup
"Take a minute to check your child's car seat, says Linda Wernecke, a volunteer with the Island County Child Passenger Safety Team. You may think you have it set up correctly, but I hope that people will take a second look and not just assume that they did it right, Wernecke said. It could mean the difference between life and death or serious injury. It's like checking your oil, or your tires. It's something you need to do.Here's a point-by-point checklist:Did you use the instructions? Read them and keep them with your car seat for use as your child grows larger. Use your vehicle owner's manual too, for help in fastening the seat in securely.Is your child facing the right way for both weight and age? If you use a car seat made only for infants, always face it toward the rear of the car. An infant should ride facing the back of the car up to at least one year of age and a weight of 20 pounds. A child over the age of one who weighs more than 20 pounds can face forward. If you have a passenger-side air bag, does your child ride in the back seat? The impact from an air bag can kill a child riding in the front seat. All children under the age of 12 should ride in the back seat, in a car seat or buckled in correctly. Is the vehicle's seat belt in the right place and pulled tight? The vehicle's seat belt must go in the correct path to hold the car seat in place. The vehicle's seat belt must be tight enough to keep the car seat from moving more than an inch in any direction. Different car seats have different seat belt arrangements, and the arrangement varies according to the position (forward or rear facing) of a convertible car seat. Read the instruction manual. Is the harness snug? Does it stay on the child's shoulders? Shoulder straps should go in the lowest slots for babies riding backward and in the top slots for children facing forward. Position the harness clip at armpit level. Make sure the straps lie flat and that the harness fits snugly, allowing no more than one finger width between the harness and the child's chest. Does your child use a booster seat if he or she weighs between 40 pounds and 60-80 pounds?A booster seat helps protect your child by making the safety belt fit better. A booster seat without a shield gives good protection with a lap/shoulder belt. Has your child's car seat been recalled? Call the Auto Safety Hotline (800) 424-9393 to find out. "