Car Seat Safety Basics

September 18-24 is National Child Passenger Safety Week. Did you know 75-90% of car seats are used incorrectly?

Kaitlyn Silvestri Ellis, a local Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, shared some tips on car seat safety.

How to choose which car seat is right for your child’s age and size:

  • Children under 2 should always rear face. Their spines aren’t developed enough to withstand the force of a crash while forward facing. They should ideally rear face until they outgrow their convertible car seats, which is on average around 40 pounds depending on the seat. The longer they rear face, the better.
  • Once forward facing, children should remain in a 5-point-harness until age 5, at least 40 pounds and mature enough to sit in a booster . There is no rush to move them to a booster seat. Most car seats now days will allow children to remain harnessed until closer to age 8.
  • Once they are in a booster seat, the seat belt should be low on the hips and fit properly on the collar bone, not the neck or slipping off the shoulder.
  • When can a child ride without any child seat at all? Seat belts are designed for an adult’s body. A seat belt won’t fit a child correctly until they can pass the 5 step test, which is:


It is also important to note, children must be in a booster seat until at least 8 years old, and 57 inches tall according to Kentucky state law.

The back seat is always the safest for children under age 13 because of the dangers of air bags on underdeveloped bodies.

Check your straps:

  • A rear-facing child should have the harness below their shoulder level.
  • For forward facing it will come from above the shoulder.
  • The straps should pass the pinch test for tightness. (You should not be able to pinch any slack on the straps when they are tightened properly.)
  • The chest clip should be at armpit level.

Installation Help:

  • When installing your child’s seat, you should first read your entire car seat manual, check with your vehicle manual, and then consult with a CPST to double check your work.
  • There are private CPSTs available to meet with you on your schedule. Find a tech in your area using this online search tool.
  • Going to the fire department to have your seat checked is also an option in counties who have CPSTs on staff. You will want to confirm the person assisting you is certified.
  • You can schedule a check with Kaitlyn on Seat Check Saturday, coming up on Sept. 24. Visit to make an appointment.

For more info or to reach Kaitlyn, visit