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Bringing Home Baby: Car Seat Safety

Selecting the Right Car Seat

Your child's car seat is one of the most important purchases you'll make during the next few months. A child restraint, when correctly chosen, installed and used, is extremely effective in reducing deaths and injuries of infants and children.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) "Traffic Safety Facts 2001," child restraints, correctly installed and used, were extremely effective in reducing infant and toddler deaths in vehicle crashes.

Sylvia Scholl, Coalition Coordinator of the Wake County SAFE KIDS Coalition, offers these tips in selecting your child's car seat: Select a seat approved by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and that 1) best fits your child, 2) best fits your vehicle, and 3) will be used correctly every time.

Some retail businesses will allow you to "try out" a seat in your car before making a purchase. Check with the store manager.

Since child seats vary in size, shape and comfort, try the different display models in the retail stores and find one that you will be able to use correctly.

Ensure that everyone who transports your child knows how to use your seat properly. Using Used Car Seats & After-Market Products For the safety of your child, think twice about using second-hand seats or after market products.

Unknown damage, wear, missing or defective parts are not always visible. Use the checklist below to ensure a used seat meets each of these criteria.

  • All labels and instructions are available
  • Meets current FMVSS
  • Free of recalls (check make, model & date)
  • All parts are present and in working order
  • Free of cracks, loose rivets, etc. (get out your magnifying glass)
  • Complete and reliable history is available; no evidence of being in a crash
  • Seat is less than seven (7) years old
  • The seat manufacturer is still in business and can be contacted

After-market products and accessories (items not originally designed for the seat by the manufacturer) may sound good, but most compromise the integrity of the original design.

Sellers of these products create an illusion of added safety where none exists, and they can actually interfere with the safety design of the child seat. These items may become unattached and become a projected missile during a crash.

There is no current federal standard for testing or regulation, so lean on the side of safety and pass them up.

Baby's First Car Ride

When you are ready to leave the hospital, feel confident that your baby will be safe for the first ride home.

If you are delivering at WakeMed Raleigh Campus, a WakeMed representative will inspect your car seat installation and ensure your baby is properly secured. 

Some local fire stations have certified personnel so you can get your car seat inspected prior to your baby's arrival. We recommend calling before you go.

Local Car Seat Inspection Stations

  • Apex: (919) 362-4001
  • Fuquay-Varina: (919) 552-0422
  • Zebulon: (919) 269-6487
  • Raleigh (Six Forks Road.): (919) 420-2318
  • Raleigh (Durant Road): (919) 870-2916
  • Raleigh (Lake Boone Trail): (919) 420-2360

For more information visit www.safekids.org.

Learn More

Did you know that 75% of car seats are used or installed incorrectly?  Learn more about car seat safety here.