Tips on how to properly install and use a car seat and where to get free help

Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and your passengers in a crash. It is important to make sure all children riding in your car are properly buckled before every trip.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration says 35-percent of Children under 13 killed in crashes in 2015 were not properly buckled in. They also say 59-percent of car seats are not used correctly.

The current California law says:
- Children under 2 years of age shall ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds OR is 40 or more inches tall. The child shall be secured in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer of the car seat. (California Vehicle Code Section 27360.)

- Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat.

- Children who are 8 years of age OR have reached 4'9" in height may be secured by a booster seat, but at a minimum must be secured by a safety belt. (California Vehicle Code Section 27363.)

- Passengers who are 16 years of age and over are subject to California's Mandatory Seat Belt law.

Knowing which car seat for which age and weight can be hard but we have a few tips and helpful link that will guide you through the process.

Certified technicians offer these pieces of advice:

- Kids under the age of two should always use rear-facing car seats

- Take the time to carefully read and understand the warning labels on the car seat

- Use a car seat designed for your child's weight and height

- Make sure the seat itself is not too loose

On that last point, officers offer this advice: pull the seat belt all the way out, make sure it locks and clicks, and that there is no slack.

"You don't want it to move more than an inch where the belt connects to the car," said CHP Officer Derek Jackson.

The CHP recommends all parents stop by an office to let technicians take a look at your car seat and give it a safety tune-up. You can also go to most AAA offices or you can click here to search for a car seat inspection station near you.

The service is free and could prevent another family from going through the same pain.

The CHP has also created a series of videos on how to properly install a car seat.

Watch more videos here.

Need help finding a car seat? The NHTSA also provides a useful find and compare tool for those who are unsure which car seat they need.

Using these tips can make the difference if the unthinkable should happen.
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