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Installing Car Seats: You Can Do This!

Not Sure If You Installed Your Child Safety Seat Properly?

Have It Checked!

The Baltimore County Police Department leads a team of countywide child passenger safety technicians who host monthly car seat check up events. These check up events give caregivers the opportunity to have their car seat or booster seat double-checked for correct usage and installation by a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician. Check up events are free. They are held the third Tuesday of every month and locations vary throughout the County. Appointments are necessary.

Check our schedule of monthly car seat checks.

Securing your child in a properly installed car seat or booster is one of the most important safety steps you can take. Choosing, using and installing a car seat or booster seat doesn't have to be difficult—if you know a few basic tips. With a little guidance from a certified CPS Technician, you can do this yourself!

Baltimore County's Child Passenger Safety Team is committed to protecting children by educating caregivers about car seat and booster seat safety. Working together at monthly events, the Fire, Police and Health departments, and other volunteers provide correct selection, use and installation information to parents and other caregivers.

Get It Right, Get It Tight!

Experts agree that your child will ride safely if you remember this rule: Get It Right, Get It Tight!

  • Make sure you buy the right seat for your child's age, weight and height. Your child should ride rear-facing as long as possible, to the maximum rear-facing weight or height limit of a convertible car seat, or at least age two. Once turned forward-facing, a child should ride in a car seat harness until they have outgrown the harness by weight or height. After outgrowing the harness, the child should then ride in a belt positioning booster seat until the child correctly fits the adult-sized seat belt, typically between 10 to 12 years old.
  • There are many safety options available on the market but the best car seat is the one that fits your child's age, weight, height, behavioral and health care needs. It needs to fit correctly in the vehicle and must be easy to use. The easier a car seat is to use, the more a caregiver will consistently use it correctly.
  • Always follow the car seat and vehicle owner's instructions.
  • Make sure the car seat harness is set correctly. The straps should sit at or below a child's shoulders if riding rear-facing, and at or above a child's shoulders if riding in a forward-facing harness. Straps should be snug with no slack and caregivers should not be able to pinch any excess webbing away from the child's collar bone area. The chest clip should sit at underarm level. If there are multiple crotch buckle slots, read the instructions to see which buckle slot is correct for the child or direction of the car seat. Double check head or body inserts, accessories and extra pads to see if they are direction-specific, weight- or harness-slot-specific.
  • Regardless of the direction, a car seat with a harness must be installed tightly into the car using either the vehicle seat belt or Lower Anchor or Tether connectors. A properly installed car seat will not move more than an inch from side to side or towards the front of the vehicle when pulled at the belt path.

There are many resources available to caregivers about car seat and booster seat safety. Most car seat manufacturers have online videos to demonstrate correct use, and there are excellent online child passenger safety resources such as Safety Belt Safe, Safe Kids Worldwide, Safe Ride News, The Car Seat Lady and Maryland's child passenger safety program, Maryland Kids In Safety Seats (KISS).

Be sure to thoroughly review the details of Maryland laws and best practices governing child passenger safety before you install your child's seat.

Revised January 29, 2020         


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