UPDATE: The Florida Highway Patrol and Baker County Health Department no longer provide low-cost car-seats.
In 2009, 372 children ages 5 and under 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.
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.
Where can I find a low cost car seats?
There are many options for low-cost car seats in Northeast Florida:
Florida Highway Patrol: Offers car seats for a minimum $20 donation for parents on public assistance. The car seats are available to families in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, St. Johns (Putnam, Flagler, Bradford & Union). Call Trooper Dawn Tomlinson @ 904.695.4115 x232
- Safe Kids: Offers car seats at their permanent fitting station located at Philips Hwy and Emerson. Call 904.202.4302 for an appointment.
Baker County Health Department: Offers low cost car seats. Call 904.259.6291 for more information.
- 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.