Part of any car maintenance service is a child car seat, or safety restraint, for any little ones in your care. Your auto technician can advise you on the installation and use of car seats, however, there are numerous people in the community available to help. If you’re a grandparent like me, or a new parent, knowing child restraint laws and how to properly install and use car seats is pretty important. In anticipation of my grandson coming to visit, not only am I joyfully buying toy cars and computer games, I am getting a car seat appropriate for his age and size. Don’t feel silly asking your auto technician about installing car seats, especially if you haven’t done it before. Getting those seats in the car properly and safely is a part of good car maintenance safety! If you haven’t used car seats in a while, and need current law, or if you’re a newbie to the process, this information is for you!
Interestingly, Volvo is developing an inflatable car seat that folds into a bag when not in use.This 11 pound seat inflates and deflates in 40 seconds. It can even be remotely operated with a Bluetooth. That would make it easier, and save a visit to the auto technician!
While you’re eagerly awaiting the manufacture and distribution of Volvo’s inflatable car seat, consider what on the market is best for your child right now. First, let’s look at Colorado law for child restraints in vehicles:
Children must be restrained in boosters — or other appropriate child car seats — until they reach the age of 8 years old. Parents searching for an appropriate child safety seat to meet the requirements in Colorado need to make sure the car seat matches the child’s weight, height and age:
Children ages 4-8 (through their 8th birthday) must use either a car seat or booster. Effective, Aug. 1, 2011, if you are not in compliance with this law, you could face a fine of $82 or more.
All children under 8 years old
Colorado Law: Children under 8 years old must be properly restrained in a child restraint system.
Infants up to age one
Colorado Law: Infants must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 1 year old and weigh at least 20 lbs in the rear seat of the vehicle.
Guideline: Use a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. Most convertible car seats can be used facing the rear until the child reaches 35 pounds. Rear-facing seats offer the best protection during a crash because the whole body (head, neck, and torso) is cradled by the back of the safety seat in a frontal crash. Rear facing seats protect your baby better in crashes, particularly side impacts. You can purchase a mirror and toys for baby to play with while in their car seat.
Children between the ages of 1 and 4
Colorado Law: Children who are older than age 1 and weigh more than 20 lbs. must be properly restrained in a car seat.
Guideline: Your 1-4 year old’s needs a rear or forward facing seat with a 5 point harness system until they are at least 40 lbs. A 5 point of harness system has more places to distribute crash forces and offers better protection than a lap and shoulder belt. Keep the child in the back seat. Use upper-tether straps where possible.
Children between the ages of 4 and 8
Colorado Law: Children 4-8 must continue to ride in a child restraint. This can be a five point harness child safety seat for younger children or a booster that uses the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt as the child outgrows a car seat.
Guideline: Children should be in a booster in the back seat until they are 57″ tall and at least 8 years old..
Keep your child in a booster until:
- She is 4’9″ (57″) tall; for many children this is after age 8, so height is the safest guideline.
- The shoulder belt of the car’s seat belt crosses her shoulder and chest (not her neck.)
- The lap belt crosses her upper thighs (not her abdomen.)
- Her knees bend at the edge of the back seat and her feet dangle down.
Children ages of 8 and up
Colorado Law: Children between the ages of 8 and 16 must use a seat belt or child restraint.
Guideline: Keep your child in the back seat as long as possible, at least until age 13 and 100 pounds. All Colorado drivers are required by law to seat belt. If your child has reached age 8, and is over 57” tall, she can get out of the booster and use a seat belt.
If you still want some help, CDOT supports over 140 inspection stations where you can get your child restraint checked. Most of the Inspection Stations offer free assistance for parents, including car seat checks, to ensure proper seat installation. For parents facing financial hardship, some inspection stations provide car seats at a reduced price.
For car seat and child restraint resources in Larimer County, call the police station or the hospital, or your local fire station. If you need help installing your child restraint into your car, you can make an appointment at just about any municipal service station and get assistance. If you want to apply for financial assistance in obtaining a child car seat, numerous resources are available. A good site for these services is here: //sklarimer.org/car-seat-resources/