In 2010, more than 400 children ages 1-5 were injured in motor vehicle accidents in Northeast Florida. That’s why child safety in the car is so important — and the law. Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about car seats:
What kind of car seat does my child need?
Florida law requires children five and under use a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device. That device depends on their age:
- Children MUST be put in rear-facing car seats until they are age 1 AND 20 lbs. But rear-facing is safest, so children should be faced this way as long as possible. In convertible car seats, they can sit rear-facing up to 35 or 40 pounds unless they outgrow the seat by height first.
- Children can be be turned front-facing until they hit the maximum height and weight limits. This is usually when they are age 4 or 40 lbs.
- Booster seats can be used after your child reaches 40 lbs and up to age 12. Use both the lap and shoulder belt when securing your child.
- Children age 13 and under should ALWAYS sit in the backseat.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers tips and information on finding the right car seat for your child.
Why should I put my infant in a rear-facing car seat?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, rear-facing is safest for babies because they would face a greater risk of injury in a front-facing carseat during a crash. The AAP also recently recommended “Backwards until 2″: putting your child in a rear-facing seat until they are two years old.
How do I know my car seat is installed correctly?
Safe Kids Northeast Florida offers free inspections. Check their website or call 904.202.4302 to make an appointment.
Where can I find a low cost car seats?
There are several options for low-cost car seats in Northeast Florida:
- Safe Kids: Offers car seats at their permanent fitting station located at Philips Hwy and Emerson. Call 904.202.4302 for an appointment.
- St. Johns County Buckle Up Program: Offers discounted car seats to qualifying St. Johns County residents who are the parent or legal guardian of a child. Qualifying families must receive assistance from WIC, food stamps, Medicaid, Florida KidCare or Head Start. Call the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s Office at 904.209.2250 x4636.
- Clay County Sheriff’s Office: Call their Car Seat Hotline for more information: 904.213.5927
**Please note that programs will not come to the hospital to help install a car seat. It is highly recommended that parents contact one of the programs before the third trimester of their pregnancy.
Should I register my car seat with the manufacturer?
Yes! If there is a recall, they can contact you and let you know so you can discontinue use of the defective product. You can also check regularly with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for information on recalls and unsafe products.
Learn more about registering your product here.