Sept. 19-25, 2021 is Child Passenger Safety Week and the Iowa City fire and police departments - alongside the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) - want to remind motorists with children to ensure their child is in the right seat. The week is dedicated to educating parents and caregivers about the importance of correctly choosing, installing, and using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.

According to NHTSA, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children and nearly half - 46 percent - of car seats are misused. Using age-appropriate and size-appropriate car seats and installing them correctly are among the best ways to prevent motor vehicle crash deaths among children.

Recommendations for child passengers

NHTSA recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the top height and weight allowed by the particular seats. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, they are ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat, a child should be placed in a booster seat until tall enough to fit in a seat belt properly.

Booster seats are an essential step between car seats and seat belts. These transitional seats position the seat belt so that it fits properly over the stronger parts of your child’s body. Don’t feel pressured to put your child in a seat belt too soon. 

Attend the free child safety check event

If you need assistance installing a car seat or just want to make sure your car seats are properly installed, the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital - in collaboration with Safe Kids Johnson County - is hosting a free child safety seat check on Thursday, Sept. 23, 6 - 8 p.m. at University of Iowa Health Care in the Iowa River Landing, 105 East Ninth St., Coralville. Trained technicians will be on site to offer education and assistance. Participants should bring their vehicle, child and their safety seat.

There is no need to register for this event, but individuals should wear a face mask and practice social distancing. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate, please contact the Safety Store at UI Stead Family Children's Hospital in advance at 319-356-3543.

Schedule a car seat check with the Iowa City Fire Department

If you are unable to make the car seat event, you can call Iowa City Fire Department Station 4 at 319-356-5264 and schedule a car seat check. The fire department has several firefighters with extensive training on car seat installation and safety who can assist you.

Additional resources

You can access free, online resources at https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats. Other resources on this site include:

  • Car Seat Types: Determine whether your child fits best in a rear-facing car seat, forward-facing car seat, booster seat, or seat belt.
  • Car Seat Recommendations: Review NHTSA’s recommendations for the best car seat for your child’s age and size.
  • Find and Compare: Find and compare car seats with NHTSA’s handy car seat finder, which also searches specific brands.

For more information on child car seat safety, as well as how to find other virtual car seat check events, go to www.nhtsa.gov/therightseat.

Date of publication

Friday, September 17, 2021