FAQs about Child Car Seat Safety

When you take children for a ride in a car, remember to buckle them into appropriate child car seats. Know what kind of seat each child needs as well as how to use it properly. And use it every time, on every ride — even for a short trip.

To help you learn why it’s important to use a car seat, here are frequently asked questions:

Can’t I protect my child in the car by holding him/her tightly in my arms?
No. Even a tiny, 10-pound infant can be thrown forward with a force of 200 pounds in a slow-speed car crash. That’s like falling from a three-story building!

How do car seats protect a child?
During a crash, the seat holds a child in the car and safely spreads the force of the crash over a wide area of the body. Child car seats have been shown to reduce fatal injuries in car crashes by 71 percent.

How is a car seat used?
The car seat must be used exactly as the car seat maker advises, or your child may not be safe. This is why Swedish provides instruction on the proper use and installation of child car seats. Register for a Car Seat Safety class here. For information about car seat inspection, visit the Washington Safety Restraint Coalition.

What if the child does not like to be buckled in?
Children will get used to car seats if used with every ride. Be sure you and other riders buckle up to set a good example.

What if I can’t afford to get a child car seat?
If your baby is born at or receives care at Swedish, parents can buy a car seat for the flat rate of $50 through the Swedish SafeRide program.

What’s the state law on using child car seats?
On June 1st, 2007 Washington's Child Restraint Law changed to require:

  • Children under 13 years old be transported in the back seat where it is practical to do so.
  • Children up to their 8th birthday, unless they are 4'9" tall (which ever comes first), must ride in a child restraint. (For example a child car seat, booster seat, vest, or other restraint that is federally approved for use in the car.)
  • The restraint system must be used correctly according to the car seat AND vehicle manufacturer's instructions.
  • Vehicles equipped with lap-only seat belts are exempt from the requirement to use a booster seat.
  • Children 8-years of age or at least 4'9" who wear a seat belt MUST use it correctly (never under the arm or behind the back) or continue to use a booster.

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines for both the child restraint and the vehicle.