Car seats are required by law in Colorado until a child turns eight. However, this requirement could extend beyond the age of eight if a standard seat belt doesn’t fit the child. Whether buying a car seat for an infant, toddler or older child, it’s important to keep safety at the forefront of this purchasing decision. Below are three tips for Denver parents wondering how to buy a car seat that’s safe for their children.
Choose an Age-Appropriate Car Seat
Consumers have a wide variety of choices when it comes to car seats. But that can also make selecting the right one more difficult. Although features and price might be important considerations, one way to ensure you choose a safe car seat is by making sure it’s age-appropriate.
Colorado law requires children under the age of one and under 20 pounds to use a rear-facing car seat. Some seats are designed specifically for infants only. But others may have higher weight/height limits, allowing the child to stay in a rear-facing seat for longer, such as convertible or 3-in-1 car seats.
Once the child reaches the allowable weight/height limits issued by the manufacturer (and is over one year old and over 20 pounds per state law), the child can be placed into a forward-facing car seat (with a harness). Depending on the child, those between the ages of one and seven years old can ride in this type of seat.
Once the child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, parents can use a booster seat. The child should ride in one until he/she can properly fit in a seatbelt (anywhere between 8 and 12 years old). A child is ready when the seatbelt fits snugly across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits snugly across the shoulder and chest.
Use the Five-Star Rating System
Another way to ensure a car seat is safe is by using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) five-star rating system. The agency’s website provides a way for consumers to check how many stars a car seat has been rated (with five being the best and one the worst).
Consumers can check specific types of seats on the NHTSA site, such as:
- infant; or
Ratings are based on the ease of use in correctly securing the child and the features involved in installation, along with content/clarity of the instruction manual and labels attached to the seat.
There are two important features that impact the safety of a car seat. One is the LATCH system—where the seat is secured to the vehicle (not the seatbelt)—making installation easier and safer. And the other is the five-point safety harness, with straps located by each shoulder, each thigh and between the legs (making it more adjustable and therefore safer).
Check If It Has Been Recalled
Finally, consumers can look to see if a child seat has been recalled. NHTSA provides a list of the most recent recalls. There are also options that allow searches on specific manufacturers. It’s also a good idea to register the car seat, so that if a recall is issued the manufacturer will automatically notify you.
While we hope you never find yourself in this situation, D.J. Banovitz can provide legal help if you do. See our free guide, 7 Costly Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Colorado Injury Case It that can help if you’re ever in an accident.