Response to Consumer Report's testing of car seatsAs parents, grandparents or anyone who cares for children, car seat safety is a very important issue. At MeritCare we understand your need for accurate information. The Consumer Report article on infant car seat safety has raised a lot of questions. That's why Safe Kids Fargo Moorhead and MeritCare Children's has created the following to give you the facts and guide you through the issue.
- Today's car seats are safe and effective if used correctly. Every car seat on the market in the United States has passed the same rigorous crash tests required by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- If you're following manufacturer's instructions, you're giving your baby the safest ride possible with current technology. Make sure your infant car seat is less than six years old, has never been in a crash, is reclining at about a 45-degree angle in the car, is secured tightly in the back seat and the harness straps are adjusted correctly for your baby.
- Any car seat made after 2002 can be installed either with safety belts or the LATCH system in a vehicle made in 2002 or later. Use safety belts or LATCH for an infant, whichever you prefer, but not both. If you're worried about the performance of LATCH, use the safety belt.
- Safe Kids Fargo Moorhead wants to see the technology continue to improve, but we don't want parents to lose confidence in their car seats today — the best protection available. Federal standards do not call for side-impact crash tests at this time. The International Standards Organization is drafting global standards that will include side-impact tests; meanwhile, the highest standard in the world is a side-impact crash test at 19 mph that is mandatory in Australia. Consumer Report tested car seats at twice that speed.
- Read the car seat instructions and follow them carefully. Even if you don't usually read the instructions for other products, read your car seat owner's manual cover to cover. Also read the section of your vehicle owner's manual that deals with occupant protection.
If you have questions, or to learn more, call (701) 234-SAFE (7233) or visit safekids.meritcare.com.